Monday, July 12, 2010

A Hard Transfer

July 12th, 2010

Dear Folks,
Mom you asked if I ever wear short sleeves or if I just roll them, I do wear short sleeve shirts a lot, but they seem to be disappearing. I`ve lost 2 already, so that leaves me with 8. I washed the pants, they turned out fine.
I got another transfer, this time to Bogotà, which is not my favorite place in the mission, we´ll see what happens. I also do not get to train this transfer either, I´m still just a senior companion, but my companion isn´t new. I´ve kinda had a hard time with this transfer. I leave on Wednesday.
I really don't understand how I am expected to be useful in the mission anymore. I was in my last area only one transfer, and now in this area only one transfer. We worked so hard and we had so many people to teach. Now I don´t really know what waits for me over there. So today and tommorrow we get to say goodbye to everyone(because 2 new elders are coming in) so because I know how hard it will be for them to get around for a while I worry that almost all our contacts will be lost or misunderstood. I just kind of feel bad right now, because I feel like I work hard, and I obey all the rules, not always a priority for others. Please keep praying, I really need the help right now to understand what it is I need to learn from all this.

Love,
Elder Rickords

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Fire in Cucuta!

July 5th, 2010

Dear Folks,
Happy to hear you all had a good week and a great Fourth of July. I spent the week working and I didn`t remember it was the fourth until my companion said something to me in the afternoon. We had a very productive week and ended with 9 investigators in the sacrament meeting yesterday. At last, things are lookng up! However, transfers come next week and we`re sure that one of us is leaving.
I feel great about last week, we worked hard and at last we have investigators that`ll come to church. We also have 6 more with the commitment to come to church next week! We taught more lessons than anybody else in the Zone! We`re on fire!!!
So I feel really good today. I don`t usually feel that great on Mondays because for the last 3 months we`ve been getting things ready, but in this area I feel great and if the president leaves me here we`re going to baptize a bunch of people. If he transfers me someone else will get to do it.
We also went to Bucaramanga this week for a special zone conference, we had to travel 7 hours in a bus there and 7 hours back, but we stayed in a hotel and so it wasn`t so bad. It was with a new seventy about pretty much every thing about being a missionary. It lasted 7 hours and was well worth every second, we were truly strengthened.
We`ve got a great new week ahead of us. Everything is just great down here in Cùcuta. Loving the work!!!

Love,
Elder Rickords
July 1, 2010

Dear Folks,
Sorry, not much to say this week either. The world cup is in full swing and that seems to be the only thing they talk about around here. They all want Brazil or Argentina to win, to keep it on the continent. But we use it a lot to make contacts with people, and they don´t usually mind if we start off by asking who won that morning.
We did a lot of contacts this week to try to find more people to teach since we really don`t have very many right now. We`ve been doing contacts for about 5 hours each day in this sun!!! but we have more people to teach now and we will continue to do this until the members start to give references or all of our investigators start to progress and come to church.
We also had another baptism from our other area, but since it was so close we could go to see it. It was good to go back and see that it wasn´t all a waste of time.
I think I actually can wash these pants. I´ll try it tonight or tomorrow and see how it turns out because I think I read the tag wrong. We´ll see what happens.
Love you all, Tell Emily happy birthday.

Love,
Elder Rickords
June 14, 2010
Dear Folks,
I bought a camera, but sorry, I dont have any pictures yet. We just really haven`t had much time, and we`re still very new here. Not many pictures we can take with the members yet.
I also bought new scriptures a while ago. However, I still need to get new pants and socks. The shoes are still good, except for one pair, and the shirts still look new. The only problem is that 2 have already disappeared. I still have 8 left though.
We had a new family in church yesterday. Before the meeting they said they`d stay for all 3 hours, but then we had the worst sacrament meeting I`ve ever been through in my life and they said they couldn`t stay any longer after just the first hour. The sacrament meeting really was horrible. There were people ignoring their kids crying,people talking on their phones, and some other people just talking to other people in the meeting. It doesn`t help either that more than half the people showed up after we passed the sacrament and just couldn`t seem to figure out how to open and close the door quietely.
So we were pretty upset about that yesterday, but later we had a few more lessons and later we felt like we should contact an inactive family the bishop told us about, and the whole family was there and they were extremely excited to talk to us. They said nobody from the church has spoken to them in several years. We have another appointment with them tomorrow, and we`re going to bring the bishop and a few other members.
Well, not much more to say. Tell Dad and Grandpa happy Father`s day and that I said hi.

Love,
Elder Rickords
Dear Folks,
Sorry, not much to say this week either. The world cup is in full swing and that seems to be the only thing they talk about around here. They all want Brazil or Argentina to win, to keep it on the continent. But we use it a lot to make contacts with people, and they don´t usually mind if we start off by asking who won that morning.
We did a lot of contacts this week to try to find more people to teach since we really don`t have very many right now. We`ve been doing contacts for about 5 hours each day in this sun!!! but we have more people to teach now and we will continue to do this until the members start to give references or all of our investigators start to progress and come to church.
We also had another baptism from our other area, but since it was so close we could go to see it. It was good to go back and see that it wasn´t all a waste of time.
I think I actually can wash these pants. I´ll try it tonight or tomorrow and see how it turns out because I think I read the tag wrong. We´ll see what happens.
Love you all, Tell Emily happy birthday.

Love,
Elder Rickords

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hard week in the cave.

June 7th, 2010

Dear Folks,
We've had a hard week. We've had trouble finding our way around, since we are both new to the area. The ZLs were here right before us, but it looks like things didn't start happening here until last week. From what we have seen this area is very good, the ward mission leader thinks we're great, but we don't have nearly the number of investigators here as we did before. For example, the ZLs(with our old area) had 6 investigators come to church, while we had only 3. It's hard not to miss the other area because we had a bunch of great investigators lined up for this month, and we were really enjoying teaching them.
The cave is disgusting, and there are way too many mosquitos in there. They bite a lot, but we´re going to try and find a way to eliminate them. The pictures will come next week.
Well not much more I can tell you all. ´We´ll have something better to say next week I guess.

Love,
Elder Rickords

Monday, May 31, 2010

Latest News from Colombia!

May 31st, 2010

Dear Folks,
Transfers came yesterday. We both will be leaving for another area in Cúcuta. It´s the same zone and everything, just a different area, but an area that´s a lot poorer and hotter because there aren´t any trees. It was the ZLs area, but now we will trade with them. We will trade 3 baptismal dates programmed for the next 2 weeks for 3 investigators that came to church for the first time yesterday. They are the only ones progressing in our new area, but we´ll work this transfer even harder and we will turn it around.
The big problem is that the house where we will live is called ¨La Cueva¨. That means cave, and in the mission it is famous for being the filthiest house here. No breeze runs through it, and it has a plastic roof, so it gets really toasty during the day. Onward and upward!

Pictures for next week,

Love,
Elder Rickords

May 24th, 2010
Dear Folks,
Could you please get me a pretty good looking edition of Mormon Doctrine. I´d like it for my personal library. I´d like to have a pretty good collection of spiritual books when I get back. That`s funny that they´ve stop printing it though, and even weirder that videogaming is a badge! Haha
Well, Clara, the Jehovah´s witness, came to church again. We have 4 progressing investigators this week. 2 baptismal dates already and 2 more that we´ll take out this week. We have a lot of people to teach, so this week we´ll see who keeps the commitment to come to church. The problem is that the ZLs think they´ll have our area this next transfer because it´s better placed for the zone and the only really secure house we have here. Also, it´s the biggest house and up 4 floors so it has a lot of breeze that comes through it. However, I´m sure that has nothing to do with it.
We´re still working hard out here. Finally seeing results. But transfers are this Sunday.
Got my money out this friday, but I haven´t had time to buy anything yet.
Hey, what happened to that quilt Sis. Grover made me? And all my other stuff? Please keep it all safe. Also, I mailed Jared but it came back and said the address was wrong.

Love,
Elder Rickords


May 3rd, 2010

Dear Folks,
Sorry to hear about Aunt Lisa, I am very sad she is gone. Uncle Max and his family remain in my prayers, as they have been for several months. Also, Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you had a wonderful day and I look forward to the day when I can be close enough to give you a card or something.
Maybe you all think it´s rude, but a lot of things back home just lose their importance out here. I am very focused in my area, especially since it is destroyed, and want to finally get an area up and going extremely well before I leave. I have had so many area like this, I want to do my best here so that I won´t have to do it again and can finally do something else. I am very tired these days. One because of this heat (which just doesn´t leave, because we´re here in the tropics), and two because I have had to start up so many other areas like this one, and I rarely see the fruit of all my efforts. It seems like just when my area gets running I get transferred. I love my mission but there are times when a part of me is glad I can go home in 10 months.
So please don´t misunderstand if I don´t reply to everything. It´s just that I´ll be home in a few more months and right now I need to be dedicated to working right here.
I do have good news though. This week we had a family of 5 that came to church. They said they loved it and will be back next week. Out of all the contacts we´ve done, we think we have several more that can come next week to church. Also, the bishop is extremely excited with us and will present 2 references tonight in a family home evening.
So we have just begun to see what we will accomplish here. When I got here there was nothing, investigators, references, NOTHING. But now with the help of the Lord we will turn this area around, and maybe at last I will get to train.
Please call the missionary department of the church to explain my situation and see if you can put money in my missionary account. I don´t really need another card, just enough for another camera and scriptures and bag. $100 will be sufficient, I think.
I´m not sure how we´ll talk on Mother´s day. I´ll write you an email when I figure it out.
Love,
Elder Rickords




April 26th, 2010

Dear Folks,
My new area is very nice. Cúcuta is extremely hot, much hotter than Yopal. this sun tires me out, sometimes I´m glad I don´t have that much time left, and sometimes I´m not. Cúcuta also is much more of a city, and there is an entire stake here instead of just a few wards.
I really miss my old area. My new companion is Elder Arango. He is a Colombian from Barranquilla(like Shakira). He´s cool, but also very new, only a transfer in the mission, and I’m not sure his companion and him worked very hard before. He is getting blisters on his feet for the first time in his mission in his first 3 days with me. Like I said, this area is pretty down, however it has a history of being one of the best areas in the city, so another few weeks should find us a few good, solid investigators.
Don´t worry about the money, I´ll figure something out.

Love,
Elder Rickords



April 19, 2010

Dear Folks,
Hope you`re all doing well. Well we got robbed, so please cancel that card. I`ll talk to Sister Hacking about what she thinks I should do to get more money. Anyway, I`ll have enough money for now, but eventually I will need more money, especially since I need more scriptures and a camera.
We got the transfers this Saturday, I was supposed to leave today but I have things to do in town so I can stay one more day. I leave for Cúcuta tomorrow, that´s 14 hours in a bus.yay. I know it´s really hot, and I hear it has not been treated as well as it could have so I´m going to a discouraged area again. Oh well, this ,Duitama, has been my first area that wasn´t destroyed, and in 3 months we had almost 14 baptisms.
We said goodbye to everyone yesterday and today. A few families cried, like my converts and my ward mission leader(he says he´s coming to visit us next year). It was good to see that people will actually miss me here, it´s the first place where people actually showed emotion to see me leave.
This has been by far my best area. Here I feel like I have been a part of making a difference. I´ll definatly miss Duitama.

Write you next week,
Love,
Elder Rickords


April 12, 2010

Dear Folks,
We had another slow week. We haven`t had many lessons and we kind of have had trouble getting new people to teach. Contacts aren`t really effective and the members haven`t been giving references at all, so this week we are going to present a new ward mission plan to the bishop and the next week to the ward leaders. What we really need to do is involve all the leaders because Elders come into this area and give a new plan every few months, and although the plan is good, the members ditch it the second that new elders come.
Also, we went to ward counsel yesterday and all the people, leaders of the church, did was express their frustrations at how the Ward isn`t growing fast enough. It reminded me of our meetings as a deacon`s quorum presidency. It was pretty sad.
So this week we decided to go down swinging since it’s the last week of me or my comp. It`s a good little ward, but I need to buy a few more tourist things before I leave.
This week we had a baptism for Edgar and Elizabeth. They got married this Thursday after doing all the paperwork themselves(which is really a big hassle here in Colombia). They are so excited to be in the church, and are better behaved than most members. They`re the first ones in church every Sunday. I love them and hope that they will stay firm in the gospel and not go inactive.
Well that`s about it for this week. Yes, I have been taking money out to buy stuff, but I want more stuff from Colombia. I still need to buy a ginormous flag.
No, I have never seen a bull fight, although they are common here.

Love,
Elder Rickords




April 4th, 2010
Dear Folks,
I hope you all enjoyed conference. I did too, but this time I had to watch it in spanish and so I didn`t get as much out of it as I had before. I still liked it, and all the investigadores that came liked it too.
The other companionship that lives with us are the ZLs. They`re Ok, but they have the habit of treating us like we don`t know anything and they`re better. That seems to be normal for Zone leaders to do, but they`ve done it a lot more than I`ve seen in other Elders before. Needless to say I’m a little frustrated with this District. Everyone tries to tell everyone else what to do and this whole thing is discouraging me. I`m pretty sure I`ll leave this transfer so I don`t really care, I just have to baptize these people and I`ll be happy.
Elder Au has a month and a half more time than me. He`s doing well.
I still keep losing hair though. I can see my scalp through my hair. A lot comes off when I dry my hair after the shower. I`m taking vitamins and using head and shoulders shampoo, but I keep losing hair everyday. I feel bad because I never thought I would go bald before 21, this wasn`t something I expected, and its not something I can cure. Did Dad have this problem too, or is it just me?
Could you please send me the recipe for the no bake cookies today. I`m going to make some for a family home evening here.

Love,
Elder Rickords



March 22nd, 2010
Dear Folks,
We have had an OK week. For some reason we lacked enthusiasm this week and didn`t have many lessons. Also, nobody was ever home when they said they would be. Well we only had 7 investigators in church this week, but all of them will surely get baptized in the next month, we just have to get all the paperwork done and it’ll be good.
We had a service project this morning. It was outside the city on a small farm(the only thing they have are cows). They have the habit of throwing everything away around the house. The grass grows really fast and so we would see peices of clothes and then pull on them only to find an entire jacket or something. It was also very swampy and so my feet got wet.
After that we went home to sleep for 2 hours. I don`t ever remember being so sleepy at home (except for when I didn`t sleep much at night). I just have felt really tired during the week since this last summer. Anyway, I always have to take a nap on pday or else I`ll be sleepy for the rest of the week.
So that’s about all for this week. Everything’s going well.
Could you ask dad when he started to go bald? I`ve been losing a lot of hair these past few months.

Love,
Elder Rickords




March 15th, 2010
Dear Folks,
Another great week. We only had 9 investigators in church this week. Still pretty good considering that when I first got here we had 0. I`ve attached some pictures. One is of my district eating milenesa, others of the baptiss of the Poveda Family, Wilson y Fernanda, y zayuri. The parents of Zayuri will be baptized later next month.(The dad was the one who said he didn`t want to get married, but now he`s said yes!)
So we`ve been working really hard this week hopefully the 10 who will get baptized. We had to drop a few other people because they won`t progress, so we`ve been doing more contacts this week. However, members have offered 4 more references for this week!
Everything`s good here. Just got to keep working and this area will actually bear fruit. I love this place. Last night Los Gallego (a family of members) chewed us out because we didn`t tell them we were hungry. They told us we had to tell them if we were hungry because that would show trust. Enjoy those pics!
Elder Rickords

PS Tell Grandma I play piano in church every week
PPS That kid on facebook is a good friend of mine. He`s getting ready to serve a mission.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 7, 2010
Dear Folks,
This week has been great. I did not get transferred. Elder Au and I will stay the same this transfer and I think I know why.
This week we had 11 investigators in the sacrament meeting, that`s my new personal
record! Of those 11, 8 of them will definitely get baptized this month, and we have
another family of 2 that will also be baptized this month. So that`s 10 investigators that will be our goal to baptize just in this month. In the transfer we want 16 baptisms, a goal that is rarely reached. We have plan A`s and B`s and we`re pretty sure we can reach it.
We had interviews with the president this week. He says I have done a great job with my companion, and then told me I was ready for my next assignment. He tells me I`m really obedient, and that`s why I`m one of the good ones. He told me some other stuff, but then when we ended and I was heading out, I just had to tell him something. So I turned around and told him that of all my areas that this is the first one where I feel I can reach the goals that we set each week. He told me I have another year to do what I need to do in the mission and that he was going to make a few changes in his plans.
I was pretty sure I was leaving and that I would have left if I hadn`t said anything. But now I don`t have to leave and I can stay and triple the number of baptisms in one transfer.
I love this place. Thanks to the party we had even more references this week. I feel like I can work here and finally get somewhere, something I haven`t felt like for my entire mission!
Edgar and Elizabeth, The husband that said he wouldn`t get married, are going to get married in the next few weeks, and also say they want to get baptized. We`ve seen a complete change in Edgar over the last month thanks to the power of our message. We also have a family of 5 people that have already come to church twice.
So everything is going great over here. I am thankful for the privilege I have of sharing the gospel. I do recognize that success is not just in the numbers and I apologize if I sound like that, it is just that the last few months have been tough and the numbers this week actually make me think that I am not failing my Father in Heaven.

Love you all,
Elder Rickords

March 1, 2010
Dear Folks,
Thanks for the letter, I haven`t read all the talk yet, but I`ll print it off and read it later tonight.
Things this week have been coming along very well. We had another baptism this
Saturday, getting the total number of baptisms this transfer up to 6. The problem is that we have have no baptismal dates at the moment, but we do have people coming to church, and they are all excited. We have 4 people that will definately get baptized this month, 4 that might be baptized, and three reference families. I was thinking last night, and if we do it all right, we could have 14 this next transfer. Hope I don`t leave.
We have a lot of references because this last Saturday we had a Luau at the church. We organized it with the 2 wards in the city and it came off great. To start off we had a talent show type presentation from members of the two wards, then this inactive member had his own little show for 45 minutes(he`s a professional singer). He got the crowd alive, but it lasted kind of long so they got bored again. The last part was the best because it was our part. Thanks to my companion we were able to learn the Huka and we four missionaries got up and did it for the members. Everyone thought that that was pretty cool and they still keep talking to us about it. So we got everyone excited and this week we will take out some more references. Also, we`re going to to contact these families and see what we got for this next transfer. Unfortunately, I have a feeling i`ll be leaving this transfer. I hope not, but I have to wait until his Sunday to find out.
Talk to you all next week. I couldn`t send pictures today because we left town to go see some big dinosaur fossil and used all our American dollars to buy stuff.
Love ya,
Elder Rickords

February 22, 2010
Dear Folks,
Yes, I got the tie and some candy, but I never got another package.
We had Zone conference this week. It was cool as we talked about the Book of Mormon. We have the compromise to read it before next month to strengthen our testimonies. The North Americans had to read it in English to make sure they understood everything. I finished it yesterday morning, and I can say I have a strengthened testimony of the Book of Mormon. I prayed after my personal study every day to ask if it was true, and although I never recieved a the great overwhelming feeling many wish for, the Spirit did give me the calming reassurance that the Book of Mormon is true. I know it now more than ever before.
So this week we had another 2 baptisms. They`re excited and really like us. Even though they don`t have much money we were humbled when they invited us all out to eat that night which was very kind of them.
I`m getting along great with my companion and we`re working really well. We found a lot of families, but the problem is that we contact them by surprise and they listen, but the next time we go to their house they send their little kids out to tell us that they`re not home. Most of the time we ask the kids when they`ll be back and they go to ask their parents(who are hiding in the back room). We do have some potential candidates for the next transfer, like 6, but we`ll see what happens. I`m pretty sure that I`m leaving anyway because the president kept telling us that we had three more weeks together. We don`t know who will leave this time, but we do have two weeks left to enjoy our time here.
About the journal writing...I do it sometimes, but I have a problem. I know the church is true and all that, but I get frustrated that I’m still not sure I have done much good here. My mission has been so full of issues and I struggle with that when I feel like I’m doing all I can to work hard and I am obedient in all the rules. There's something I have to learn, I know.
Tell Jacob if he really wants to prepare for the mission he needs to study for an hour each morning(half the hour with the Book of Mormon and the other half with Preach my Gospel) so that he can get a good basis. I would suggest starting with chapter 2 and then all the missionary lessons in depth. Take a lot of notes and get excited about it all. Follow all the advice from chapter 2, and memorize where the more useful scriptures are for each topic and the key points of the lessons at the end of lessons 1,2 and 3. And tell him to go on some appointments with the elders. That`s my advice anyway.
Tell everyone I said hi, especially Grandma and Grandpa, and Sis. DeVere, and all the Scrimshers (they sent me Christmas cards). I`m sorry I don`t write, but I`m kind of busy and pretty focused on right here now. I`ll see you all in another year anyway.

Love,
Elder Rickords