Tuesday, March 18, 2014

December 24, 2013

Dear Mom,
First off,
"Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, prospero ano de felicidad!" I can sing that in Spanish now and know what it means. Haha, maybe you'll get a treat of my Spanish abilities tomorrow over Skype.:) Anyway, this last week was quite a mountain of challenges, and was pretty frustrating to be perfectly honest. However, I can firmly say that I have found great strength in the Savior and the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, the Everlasting Atonement, and many more pieces of my personal testimony, which have presented a light in this times of un-clarity or confusion. It has been a real treat and a very inspiring week as well. All the quotes on the small and significant gifts, which you gave to me. I must say job well done! o en Espanol: BIEN HECHO! When I was feeling down, I could turn to the Book of Mormon this week and the stories of the Savior's birth in Bethlehem and feel great comfort knowing assuredly that I know my purpose and what I have been sent here to carry out!
However, in the times of the trial and when our faith is tested to the very brink it seems like we can find hope and comfort, and peace knowing as I have felt as a missionary....Jesus Christ not only is my Redeemer, my Elder Brother, my Master, my Lord, and my Savior, He is my Prince of Peace. Simply having a picture near your bedside linked with prayer can revolve an awful night into one of the most calming, and you can feel great warmth when battling storms of darkness with your testimony and with prayer! I have felt my tongue be loosed when I testify of the reality and divinity of our Savior and our most loving Heavenly Father!!
I may be brief in this letter. I feel that this scripture says it all. It is found in the 93rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants: 21 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the abeginning with the Father, and am the bFirstborn;
 22 And all those who are begotten through me are apartakers of the bglory of the same, and are the cchurch of the Firstborn.
 23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is aSpirit, even the Spirit of truth;
 24 And atruth is bknowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
28 He that akeepeth his commandments receiveth btruth and clight, until he is glorified in truth and dknoweth all things.
 29 Man was also in the abeginning with God. bIntelligence, or the clight of dtruth, was not ecreated or made, neither indeed can be.
33 For man is aspirit. The elements are beternal, and cspirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

The aglory of God is bintelligence, or, in other words, clight and truth.
 37 Light and truth forsake that aevil one.
Add this after verse 33. I feel like these scriptures define very clearly the light of spreading the Gospel! I am happy to hear that you had that experience with those missionaries. I delight in being a missionary.

 I cannot believe that Trent is home! :) I bet that was fun for him to see Maddie as well. This is a bit splurged, but I too sang in the ward choir with Elder Berrett on Sunday! We sang "Carol of the Bells" in Spanish then participated in an octet for the "First Noel" in Spanish, which was incredible. I had to soar up to hit a high D. I had fun decorating the tree last night when I got home, I feel of the families' love immensely and even more so of our Savior's vast and deep love. I hope you feel of the true spirit of Christmas as well. And maybe I will save something to open during Skype, we'll see. For now, I am so ecstatic to talk to you all tomorrow! I hope you can get the Skype thing figured out. I only have about 40 minutes so be thinking of questions you want to ask me, I will prepare my best as well. CAN'T WAIT!!!!  This will be a fantastic holiday in the field. We are going caroling to proselyte tonight, which will be a lot of fun, I am sure!

I wish I was permitted to send pictures. I have some great ones, maybe I will too send a little gift home for you to glance over, we'll see. Random fact: We ate at the Flores' the other night and the mom Michelle looks like Miranda Lambert and was singing Miranda Lambert in the other room while cooking taco salad. Have a wonderful Christmas Eve and I await our reunion tomorrow!
Again, Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad
Joyeux Noel
y Merry Christmas from El Paso!
Elder Sterling Grant Richards

December 17, 2003

Hola Mom,
I have had a lot of powerful experiences this past week that have demonstrated to me just how much the Lord is a part of my life. Earlier in the week I was in contact with many of the other leaders of this mission. From what they all told me I came to the realization that we are never going to have the "perfect" solution to say....However, what we do have is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which truly saves souls within and outside of the true and everlasting restored Church of Jesus Christ on this Earth today. I have had a difficult time this past week showing an increase of love in many situations. I thought and I prayed to figure out why. I received my answer throughout many experiences. I would like to relay just a few of them to you this week.
This past Wednesday we had exchanges with our district leader Elder Morris. He came to my area with Elder Berrett and I, and Elder Anderson went to Ascarate. I was deeply touched by what he said to me all throughout the week. Even if you have to pull someone and drag them, you do everything you can to help them in the best way you know how! As our exchange was coming to a close we received a phone call during our morning studies. It was Hermana Aragon, she sounded desperate for us to get to the hospital. We got to the hospital and she found us and led us to the room of her niece. The little girl we gave the blessing to was sound asleep, but it worked. This little girl has a lot of faith. I had a rather wrenching fight with the adversary in that intensive care room. I walked in and I could feel my surroundings fading away and my face was white-hot and then to make matters worse I was slowly starting to lose my clarity of sight and everything became very foggily-blurred. My ears started to ring and I almost hit the floor.  I had to truly fight with everything that I had to be able to get to the bed of the girl and place my hands on her head.
Suddenly, during the last duration of the blessing....I felt a surge run through my arms and a calmness knowing that I was able to overcome the darkness from the adversary trying to bind me from exercising my authority to give a blessing. I then had enough strength to feel, hear, and see things with a vicious clarity, it was almost overwhelming. when I was asked to give a blessing to the mom of this daughter. I do not remember anything that I said however, I know that I was able to do my part. When I walked back in the rain of the cold El Paso morning, I felt a glow of happiness for being able to deliver my strength to halt the deceiver right in his tracks.
I am exceedingly grateful for this experience, because it taught me many different principles about the Gospel and about life. Even in the moments where the mists of darkness try and shroud us to deplete our energy, destroy our clarity, and pull us down into the earth, we have the resources of power and of energy stored inside our souls to lighten up this world and to emanate beams of truth to drown out the confusion, which Satan wants us to have. I am especially grateful for this time of year, because although "sore trials" may come upon us we always have the ability to get on our knees and plead for a change of circumstance. A scripture that helps me is found in Mark 9:23 where the Lord demonstrates His incredible capacity of compassion, which He has on each and every one of us. If we face something that we do not believe is possible to overcome or to conquer. Where can we turn? We can turn through prayer to our Heavenly Father and ask Him for relief, understanding, whatever it may be and He will give what we need according to His will! We must show our faith and humility by asking for that greater added strength, etc. If we must, ask the same as did that father. "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief." It is okay to ask for help!
Yesterday, we had the delight as a mission to have Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Second Quorum of the Seventy participate in our zone conference! It was a wondrous experience to say the least! Something that Elder Foster illustrated pretty quickly was that the greatest "presence" we could ever receive during this holiday season is that of the Savior more fully in our lives. Those words ring true with power and I can promise that as we more abundantly focus on the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ and His wondrous works, we will feel of His light and of His Atonement in a greater plentitude in our lives. He does live and He wants us to grow from our struggles not let them sink us into the depths of sorrow. Another insight that I want to share is that we have great peace having a knowledge of Eternity! We all have something special to add to the building of our Father in Heaven's Kingdom.
Elder Foster told me something yesterday as I shook his hand. He said: "Elder Richards, is this your first Christmas away from home?" I replied yes. He then asked me: "Will you have any difficulty being here during this time of season?" I responded very abruptly absolutely not, I know why I am here, and I have much to accomplish still!" I take great joy in saying that I know that this will be one of my best Christmasses ever!! I love this work and would not rather be any place else!
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ the Savior, Amen.
Have a great week,
-Elder Sterling Grant Richards

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 10th Letter!!!

This past week has been so interesting. There is so much I could talk about, however, I will be brief, but detailed. I have been pondering a lot about Christmas and about what great peace it truly fills our souls with if we let its spirit sink deep within us. This is a time of great service and a time for family, and warm memories, and a time of togetherness. As we were teaching this last week, I realized that the Gospel aligns so perfectly with this season of hope and joy. I was reading in 1st Nephi and I found an incredible scripture that I chose to link to this special time of year. It is found in the 13th chapter, which talks about "the great and abominable church." However, we cannot solely focus on darkness; although there is opposition to all things, we should never forget our Savior and the light and understanding He brings to us so freely if we choose to accept it and act on it in a righteous manner. This especially applies to this wondrous Christmas season! He truly is the "light and life of the world." I do not remember the exact verse, but in the same verse it explains the doctrine of Christ or the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a sweet manner, then it goes on to talk about publishing peace to the tops of the mountains or something to that effect. The point is that Jesus Christ is the great Shepherd, and the Prince of peace over all the land; this Earth in these latter-days and since the beginning of the world.
To relate a miraculous experience from this past week... We were sitting in our apartment one day making some phone calls to set up some appointments when we felt that we needed to stop by the Guzman-Romano families' home. We dropped by and knocked on the door, but that wasn't enough. We knew that we could ring the doorbell when we saw a little child scurry past, because that was what we were afraid of, waking this little girl. As soon as we touched the doorbell a teenager opened the door and hollered come in; in Spanish of course! We went in and we found the entire family home, including their son and his wife from Juarez visiting. We chatted with them, and found out what they had been taught, testified about the magnificent Plan of Salvation, invited them to come to church and the Christmas activity in our ward, and then left them with a prayer and were on our way.
On Friday was this activity and it was a fiesta! However, it was much different than the Union 4th Christmas shin-dig, complete with the big-band stylings of the Reunion Band. Instead, there was a trio-mariachi band of older men with mustaches, and they were going around to peoples' tables and playing romantic classics of the Mexican culture. It was quite a new experience to me to see a celebration, instead of a dinner, a Nativity play, and maybe some music throughout the night. I went to take a picture, funny thing was I had left my camera in the freezing cold truck and the batteries were freezing frozen as our family would say. Although, I was upset at first, I realized that it was not my purpose to snap pictures as if I were a tourist at this party, but instead to build and establish trust and relationships with the members. That is exactly what I did, I sat with my companions at the Penaloza's table. We talked to them and their friend that they had invited, but she didn't say a whole lot, however, what she did say is that Brother and Sister Penaloza could go to her house and talk more about the Gospel. There were several little miracles this week just like this one!
A miracle doesn't have to be a big extravaganza, it just doesn't work like that. Especially in relation to the Gospel, and surrounding this time of year. One of the greatest blessings you can receive is the opportunity to serve some one else and share the Gospel through your testimony of service and its importance. Elder Berrett and I gave a training in District Meeting our first week here, and we related true conversion or progress links with the attributes of Christ. They can be found in Preach My Gospel in Chapter Six.
My invitation to you all is to this week or when you get the chance during this holiday season. Pick one of these attributes, set a goal, and then as a New-Years resolution do your best to demonstrate this attribute in your daily life through all that you do and say. Mine at the moment is humility and I have seen a monumental force over take me as a missionary to be able to become like our Savior Jesus Christ. All of these attributes link together, and there are miracles almost everywhere you look you just have to be precise, and pro-active. Yes the world is busy, with the challenges of every-day life, but these truly are the Latter-Days so let us be ever faithful in "pushing our hand to the plow." May we share the Gospel to our loved-ones, friends, family, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and whole-heartedly accept Elder Ballard's invitation to invite just one person to an activity, Sacrament meeting, or another church-run event. There is no greater joy than being charitable and serving some one else in any way. The smallest things are of the greatest joy and happiness to us, if we but act and react in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ!
As far as working with two companions goes....It has been a blessing to have another companion to help me in the hardest of times. Right now, one of our companions is going through a hard time however, we know that the power of the Atonement is real and that it will only strengthen him. I will keep you updated, this area is going to explode with having people to teach within just a couple weeks! I love it here in El Paso, and I would not change it for any place else. I pondered a lot about what I could share with my companions, and I thought a lot about what Bishop Eldredge related to me when I was in Priest Quorum. He talked about ENTHUSIASM and I express my gratitude for his testimony, and his love. He has in-stilled something incredible in my heart. This is a Gospel of peace, comfort, happiness, and joy. Why not smile, even in the toughest situations? I trained my companions on an acronym, which is chosen. C-Character H-Hierarchy O-Outlook S-Soundness E-Enthusiasm N-Nimbleness or Never Give Up. I defined each one and had them guess, what each letter meant. It was a very spiritual experience, and they have taught me so much. I would tell Bishop Eldredge myself, but his address has escaped me....However, if you could pass the message along of my gratitude for his training on enthusiasm and exemplifying that quality that would be awesome!
I cannot believe Olivia sang with the Laurels! Way to go Liv! Tell me how it is this next week! Sounds like the Progressive was a hit once more. I will definitely look forward to that tradition in 2015!! I cannot wait to see pictures of holiday moments, etc. As I was scrambling to find something in my suit-case this morning, I found my polos, which I have both outgrown and I am wanting to send them home. I will await your letter, and the Christmas packages! I will see what I can do....It got really cold here on Saturday and frosty. About 32 degrees all throughout the morning into the late-afternoon. I look forward to singing with the ward choir here, because they selected me once they knew I could sing bass. I am one of the strongest basses, along with Bishop Carsoli. We will be singing "Carol of the Bells" in two weeks, which is awesome. It is in Spanish. Random word in Spanish: Carolers is Villanzicos, and going caroling is hacer villanzicos.
I hope that you have a great week! Tell the fam, and the ward I say hello. Treats during this time of year in packages are always welcome too! ;) Mint brownies or something else would suffice, haha. Anyway, today is going to be crazy so I better get going here, but I love you Mom and I hope that your knee gets feeling better. 
Elder Sterling Grant Richards 
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December 3rd and another transfer:)

Sounds like the storm is upon Draper!! I am e-mailing from the Pebble Hills library in the heart of El Paso Texas right now. I am spending Christmas and New Years in El Paso. Where to start....I drove over the mountains to the Redd chapel waited around for several hours and then finally the rest of the bunch showed up so that we could start transfer meeting. I was sitting on the bench when I saw Elder Mamales walk in and walk towards the stand, and then he saw me and came and gave me a hug and a letter from Elder Dallas! Elder Mamales was called as one of our zone leaders. Two of my previous companions are the El Paso Zone Leaders: Elder Keddington my trainer, and Elder Mamales my third companion. The zone leaders are in a trio and Elder Hunter is the third zone leader who is going home in three weeks. The missionaries erupted with excitement when Elder Keddington announced:"In Las Tierras Elder Richards will be serving with Elder Berrett and....Elder Anderson!" I was deeply shocked, however it has been challenging and fun all at the same time being with these two Elders.
Speaking of trios: I am the senior companion in a trio-companionship serving in Montana Vista: Las Tierras with Elder Anderson and Elder Berrett. Elder Matthew Berrett is from West Jordan, UT, and Elder Erik Anderson is from Sacramento, CA. Elder Berrett is 6'3'' and 18 years old. He has been out for 4 months. Elder Anderson is about six feet, and almost 21 years old. He finishes his mission in February. It is tender mercy to have two of my previous companions as my zone leaders. Elders Keddington and Mamales are still doing awesome!!
So from the Redd Chapel we drove over the Trans-mountains and hopped on the freeway going towards Juarez, Mexico, but we turned right before the bridge of entry and ended up on George Dieter and then finally after some shopping, etc; we ended up at our apartment off of Edgemere. We drive a 2011 Chevy Colorado the same color as the truck in Cruces, and I am getting used to driving a truck again! There are three companionships serving in our ward: Vista Del Sol: Elders Hernandez and Crocker, Pebble Hills( Del Norte): Hermanas Callaway and Hendricks, and us Las Tierras. I saw the most in attendance in a sacrament meeting on Sunday I had ever seen on my mission. Apparently on a good week there are 300 or so members in attendance, which is insane to me! The congregation was so filled we had to sit in the back on chairs.
This past week was marvelous in the fact that it was my first Thanksgiving on the mission, and what an interesting day that was....We ended up having two dinners the entire day, as well as visiting some active members, and less-active. It was a grand soiree at the first dinner at the Cruz home! Their entire extended family on both sides showed up, and many of them in the ward are related to each other. We did some visits, drove on some dirt roads to get to places faster, and ended off the night with some delicious Turdunkin' at the Madrid' residence! I was so excited when they sliced it and put in on my plate. Duck Dynasty seems to be following me around my mission lately....It was delicious! :) They let me take some home, and when I got home I dropped the keys and my plate went flying in the entry-way. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. I think we may have some left-overs in the fridge however....
Well, we live upstairs in a pretty nice apartment, and we all relate with one another pretty well. It is going to be a tough transfer, however all I want to do is work hard, and teach these Elders the best way to be a missionary, which is by seeking diligently to be pro-active at all times and in all places. My Spanish this transfer has risen to a new level, because it had to! I cannot believe I have been out for over seven months now! Time flies when you are working hard!!
I want to share a couple experiences from this past week, which demonstrated persistence, and charity. The first of these experiences occurred on Wednesday when we had the privilege to help a Cuban man who is wheel-chair bound move. He had a lot of work out equipment and a few odds and ends here and there, but really he demonstrated to me that he was going to be his best, despite his circumstances. This man Wilson Bidot was placed in our path for a reason, and I know that he is seeking the Gospel in his life. We have not seen him since, but he really admired the fact that we dedicate two years of our lives to serve.
 The second was a miracle, which took place last night. We had gotten out of lesson with Hermana Sweeney and we got in our truck. We had exhausted our plans that we had set already and it wasn't even time to be in for the night. We felt prompted to say a pray and to pray specifically for direction. We finished the prayer when I looked at the GPS on the dashboard and put my finger on one of the symbols: the red box in this case. We were led to a less-active member's home, and we got to the door and it looked dark, however we stayed there a little longer and knocked one more time; when a younger woman opened the door and we said we felt like we needed to come here, and she said I am glad you came come in. Then she hesitated a moment and stated: Don't you have a rule that you cannot enter into a home of a single woman? We chuckled a bit, and said "somos tres ahorita, entonces podemos pasar si quiere!"
We went inside and we talked for a little while. She brought up families and asked us what type of traditions we do around Christmas time back home. I was the first to answer and brought up the progressive dinner, and how we come together as family, have fun, and eat many times! She thought that was very interesting then she mentioned how she and her family get together at her Mom's house to make lots and lots of tamales then eat them. We talked and then Elder Anderson shared a scripture about prayer. We had a prayer and we still had abundant time before we had to be in for the night.
We were about to leave when we asked do you need anything? or "Hay algo podemos hacer para ayudarle antes que nos vayamos? and that is when she asked what do I need to do to get a blessing. We told her that all she needed to do was have faith that the blessing was directly from her Father in Heaven. She told us that she wanted to come back to church and that she was separated from her husband, and she was going through some very difficult times. I gave her the blessing and I had tears of joy fill my eyes as I was finishing the blessing. I was touched by her faith and her sudden change. The priesthood is real and it does bless others!
I love this area and the people here! I hope that you have a great week, and that you trust in the Lord to change your circumstances when the dark "storms settle in", especially during this time of the season. I know that obedience brings a more meaningful, and a greater connection to revelation from on high. I have felt that this week, and I sincerely pray that we can remember what this season is really about! The birth of our Savior and what He has given us.
Have a great week, can't wait to talk to you on Christmas.
Elder Sterling Grant Richards
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November 25th Letter...Almost Thanksgiving

Hola Madre,
Esta semana fue superior! The title of this letter is an attempt at "fat guy in a little coat" if you didn't catch that. Well, as you can see a six-week bullet out of Trans-Mtn North is what is happening right now! My companion is training a brand new missionary and I am getting launched off somewhere else. I do not know where or what my next assignment is going to be until tomorrow. I was standing in Walmart and a man started singing "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas in El Paso...." It is more than true. It has been frigid and quite brisk here in the mountains this past week and to be honest we have been richly blessed by members giving us rides. We only had to bike twice!! I will send some pictures of Elder Richards "the Eskimo" as my companion called me, as well as the snow, and mis despedidas con las personas de este barrio! y some photos of my fascination with the Duck Dynasty merchandise in Walmart. Haha, I have made certain situations fun while biking!
Anyway, sorry for the tangent. I will update you with my address as soon as I know. Today our P-Day was suddenly changed back to Monday just for this week, due to scheduling conflicts; I guess it was. The reason our Mission President changed our preparation day was to compensate for the time lost, because certain libraries, and government buildings are not open in our mission on Mondays, because of national labs etc, enhoused here. Also, our weekly planning day was changed to Monday, which makes a lot more sense! Today, I am e-mailing, and packing. I cannot shop until I get into my next area.  It was fun to hear from Will, Granny and Grandpa, and Liv.  I cannot believe that Kennedy and Will are growing up and playing on their own teams! I have only played Settlers a few times. Way to go Mom! :) How was Michael Buble? I might have heard some of his CD while out working! Send some pictures of Thanksgiving and the Holidays, I would love that more than anything! I will keep you posted on everything. If I don't get a chance tomorrow, definitely the next week. I had the opportunity of getting stretched out, and my back popped, etc with an LDS chiropractor, and I feel a lot better now! :D
This week was incredible! We really got the members more involved and a lot of wonderful things happened! We have six investigators with baptismal dates now, and the Lopez family came to church for the first time in 20 years! It was a miracle! They are working on preparing for the temple and getting sealed as a family! What an incredible plan our Father in Heaven has for us!!!! My companion and I were involved in several meetings this past week, and there was a lot of house-keeping to do as I am leaving, and he is taking over the area. As I mentioned, El Paso got down to the 30's this week, and you can tell by the pictures just how freezing it was!! I enjoy working hard, because it brings great joy knowing that I am doing everything that I can to give my all, and to never give up, and that I am literally saving souls by dedicating and consecrating these two years of my life to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. I have been touched by the Spirit immensely this week, and look forward to this next capacity, which the Lord is entrusting to me.
I am growing rapidly, and have been experiencing growing pains off the charts. My spiritual perspective of life, and of service is beginning to open my heart and mind. I want to bear my testimony to all that I know that people can change, and that they will. You must first do something yourself before you can tell someone else to do so. I am here to invite, to preach, and to teach my spiritual brothers and sisters. I know that our Heavenly Father's plan is so vast and expansive that we will never come to a perfect knowledge of it, at least in this life! I know that we are here to grow and progress, and to do our part in order to receive the blessings from on high! I know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lives, that Father in Heaven lives, and they both love us more than we can comprehend. The blessing and gift of an eternal family is something that we should cherish! There is no greater power than that of God's love for His own family, His children, His servants, and all those who will take their faith in His Son Jesus Christ and act! For we know, "Faith without works is dead being alone." May we ponder it in our hearts and our minds, and may we "lengthen our stride, and quicken our pace of action according to faith." This is my humble prayer for all this week, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ the Lord, Amen.
There is not much more to say this week other than to express my gratitude as Thanksgiving is coming up. In Spanish: Dia de Accion de Gracias! Anyway, I want to finish off with a list of what I am indeed grateful for. I am grateful for our loving, powerful Father in Heaven, for our Savior and Redeemer, His perfect example and His everlasting and infinite Atonement, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, my incredible family, being raised in a Gospel-Centered Home, My siblings and their incredible examples, all of the role-models, heros, and heroines in my life who have helped me become the hard-worker, determined disciple, the oldest brother of three wonderful sisters, grandson who has been impacted immensely by his wonderful grandparents, male-cousin who looks up to his younger cousins as well as to his older cousins(The Bells :) ), and the uncle who loves his niece dearly. I am grateful for this opportunity of growth and the ability to develop on this earth, the Restoration of the only True Church on this Earth today, for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his exceedingly great faith, and perserverence to do what is right always, for the Book of Mormon, and the wonderful gift which it is! I would like to stretch forth my arms of appreciation to all of the leaders in my life, and to all of my friends, and loved ones.  I am grateful for many things, and I wish to extend a challenge this week, especially on Thanksgiving, that of which is to pray more sincerely, express more gratitude than is necessary, and pray and truly turn to Heavenly Father for that spiritual guidance we all need. I am grateful for all of the talents, characteristics, and individual attributes, which make Elder Sterling Grant Richards the person and son of God he is today! I cannot express enough gratitude for your example to me Mom (pushing me to be successful, work hard, and to get my Eagle scout as well as the importance of laying aside procrastination) "Mom you earned your Eagle", and for the wonderful, firm, and steadfast heroes, and worthy bearers of the Holy Priesthood above all things: Grandpa Grant, Jeff, Jason, Jordan, and Austin! I sincerely express my thanks and love to all of you this week, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
With Great Love and Infinite Gratitude,
-Elder Sterling Grant Richards

November 18th Letter

Hey Mom,
I have had a wonderful week! I will keep my eyes peeled for the bag that you sent, I highly appreciate everything you've done for me, and are currently doing for me! You are a wonderful Mom, and I know that you will be blessed for your efforts, and your great works! I am sure that you are being blessed daily. I know that I am.  I have come to treasure photos as valuable memories on my mission.
This week was fantastic in so many ways. I truly learned how much an attitude does make an impact on how everything that follows in the day, week, etc....any other extended period of time. As I was pondering about what I could do to be able to attain the attribute, well, strengthen my attribute of humility....I have come across several solutions, and answers to my prayers. I would like to share those. I know that you have to be doing your part, to encourage someone else. Often times when things don't fall into place you have to assess what can I do differently or how can I help make this situation or circumstance better. I realized that many of the Christ-like attributes mesh together when compared to the grander perspective of Eternity! You only have influence or control over certain things, other factors come in to play because of one's agency, will, desire, or strife in doing something.
This week we were discouraged to see that Sister Lopez is not going to make her baptismal date for the 30th, however, she is starting to really have an intrigue for learning, and for us to help her understand what she is studying. Ruth is incredible, and we are hoping that she will be baptized in December. I would like to share a quick miracle story that happened this past week on Thursday evening at about 8:15 p.m. or so. We drove to an appointment that we had set about a week in advance. Unfortunately, when we got there we were sad to hear that the husband was in Albuquerque for his job, and he did not bring it to our awareness. However, we got to see how the wife and the son were doing, and it was a sweet tender mercy. The miracle comes into play as we left: We felt prompted to go visit our investigator Oswaldo Aguirre, and my GPS started re-calculating the route to one that we had not taken before.... One that was uncommon, however, it was the right one. When my GPS changed the route it was divine guidance, because sure enough there was a man who hadn't been at his home before out on his porch, and the most miraculous observation I had from the get-go was that his gate was wide-open, and so was his heart and mind. He was truly willing to listen, and the Lord had put him in our path.
This man Lidio Camacho is now our investigator with a baptismal date for December 7th. He had been to church before with his daughter, and when we taught a little bit about the Plan of Salvation there were tears streaming down his face, that he would have the opportunity to see his wife, and lost loved ones again. En Espanol es aquellos quien han fallecido. This incredible brother is in his late 70's and he has been prepared his entire life to receive the Restored Gospel! Although, we had the car this last week.... It will be good to be on bikes again and to be able to have those tender mercies of biking in the open of El Paso! In other news: Transfers are next week! I will keep you updated about that for sure.
 I know that you are busy in your own personal ministry, and that those people that you talk to see your incredible example and the light from your talents. You, I, and Grandpa Grant all know that we run into people everyday for a reason, and we can relate to them well. Call me little Grant, because last night Javier Lopez (Ruth's boyfriend) and I were talking about music, and he told me he was a composer, and a classical guitarist, pianist, drummer, plays the ukele, and then I wanted to hear his talent. He has perfect pitch, and he pulled out the Spanish guitara and played some romanca for us! It reminded me of Grandpa when he sang "Fox went out on a chilly night."  I told him that I loved to sing, and that I was an instrumentalist before my mission. We really connected, and I can now have vocabulary in Spanish to use regarding one of my passions, which is music! I am learning so much, and my Spanish is improving ten-fold each and every day!!
As far as Christmas music is concerned....I honestly have no idea what the rules will be regarding Christmas music. Members have Christmas music on in their homes, and I am around it a lot. I enjoy it, and it drives me to help others feel joy, because they can have Salvation in the Kingdom. I am excited to see what I can do as a missionary on Christmas to bless the lives of others. I also look forward anxiously to when we get to talk on Christmas!!!! 
 I think my Nike's might have been terminated when I stepped in dog poop during service....however, they are still in-tact, just stinky.  Elders Craner' birthday is next week on the 25th: The adopted boys of the fam are turning 21!! I still keep in touch with them. They would love to hear from Liv, and Mad, and you, and Hayley I am sure. I know Hannah writes me in Spanish to practice her Spanish! I cannot believe that Trent, Tate, and the Cranes have almost completed their missions....It flies by, but at the same time goes by day by day, which is the right pace! I will pray that your knee gets better. Tell Liv that if I was there right now I would do the same and for her to enjoy it while she can. I am envious that you are going to Michael Buble, how cool! However, enjoy it, and be safe!! I still hear jazzy Buble on my mission every now and then!
I am happy to hear that things at home are going well, and that Livi is keeping up her grades, and Hayley is little Sterling Grant....haha! Anyway, I cannot believe Thanksgiving is this next week. I have lost a lot of weight. I now am almost 6'2'' and about 194 pounds. I am sure when winter and the holidays my weight will take its toll, but that is what I get for being a Spanish missionary. I second Hayley's testimony about tithing, it is incredible to see the fruits of paying your tithing! I would love some "Madelynne Frances Fratto Snicker Doodle Dessert Bars"! Yum!!!! I forgot to tell you; kinda late now, but your treats from Halloween were delicious! Thanks for the updates on the ward. I am happy to see missionary work, being lit up so much in our ward. Almost 10 missionaries now serving right? I hope Olivia serves....up to her though. I am glad to hear that you have had so many opportunities on a regular basis to share the Gospel como decimos en Espanol: a los demas!
I love you all, and I hope that you have a great week! Will has been awesome to talk to pretty much every week. Even his little funny e-mails of two or five words, they're golden!
-Elder Sterling Grant Richards
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November 11th Letter...Back to Biking Basics!

Dear Mom,
This week was very taxing and one of the most incredible weeks at the same time. My companion & I have put on two Family Home Evenings in the past week & the kids absolutely love our activities! Last night, we came up with a Gospel version of "Chutes & Ladders"; called "Afflictions & Blessings"; we thought we were pretty creative and that we might have a future for producing missionary games for Deseret Book or something, kidding....That aside, we biked tirelessly this week, which was a miracle in itself! I have gotten back into the hang of biking on a 7 speed & absolutely love it! This week we have the silver Corolla, because our area is a car-share area now, not just a biking area. We switch off bikes & the car weekly.
There is so much to talk about! Where to start: The greatest thing about being on bikes is being able to talk to people right on the street while out proselyting. In fact, on Wednesday right as we set off out the door we biked down the hill, when a younger man signaled for us to come across the street to a purified water station. We rode across & talked to the man. He told us that he wanted to come back to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but he wasn't sure how to start. We told him that we would drop by & share a few things with him as well as show him where the church was. 
We also had some other experiences that the people were not so nice. As I was biking on Thursday in the afternoon on exchanges with the district leader, I was almost attacked by a big white dog and had quite the scare! However, there are people who watch out for the missionaries. A big black man came out of nowhere in his military uniform & distracted the dog long enough for me to get out the gate of our apartment complex. We were biking to get  to Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies for the F.H.E. when a sports car sped past & stopped and we got cussed out like you wouldn't believe, but I just smiled & waved. These experiences taught me to open my mouth & to truly explain who I was & why I am here in El Paso Texas right now!
Later on the night of exchanges..... we had biked a long distance to almost the corner of our area & then had to bike to a Missionary Council meeting at the Arias' home after giving a blessing to a woman. We biked with haste, and the Elder in front of me kept on going & never stopped. I received an impression in my mind to keep peddling no matter how tired or exhausted I was! My heart was comforted to know that the Lord had given me strength to bike after 5 years of not touching a bike. The last stretch & the final climb were the most horrendous slopes of this ride, because it was all up-hill on a pretty steep-grade road. I was on the lowest gear & still was sore & all of the blood had rushed to my legs, I was panting, but this Elder in front of me was peddling rapidly up this hill. I gave it a chance, and followed the prompting of the Holy Ghost that I had received. I peddled & peddled& peddled& peddled up this hill & eventually we got to a light where I could rest & finish off my water bottle. We then had to bike down a straight path, and up an even steeper hill to get to our destination! I was sweating waterfalls, and pushing with all of my might & I made it, but I had to fight to get up this hill and not fall.
I take away a great analogy from my experience. No matter, how hard we attempt to do something, we cannot rely on our own strength we have to trust that our Heavenly Father will lift us in our challenges, and that the Savior's Atonement will make-up if we do our part, all of our slip-ups! As I got into the house for the meeting it was about to come to a close. As I looked around, everyone was asking : "Elder Richards todo esta bien? "Les Contesto, yo, si porque yo tengo la fuerza del Senor para llevarme en mis difficultales y desafios." Had I stopped biking, I would not have been able to stay within sight and sound of my district leader. Often times, the leaders of the church challenge us to do things, which we may not want to do at first. The point being, we need to persevere & push with all of our might to reach the finish line, which is eternity. We will have trials, and traps, and temptations thrown in our way, but we can cry unto the Lord & find rest & peace. I love the scripture in Alma 34:41: I too know that with patience & humility in our hearts & with a willingness to do our part we will be blessed more abundantly than if we rely on our strength alone!!
I also learned this week that love is more important than anything else. If we love, we will be able to serve & receive the fruits of the Gospel & the Spirit in their plenitude. Joy, Meekness, Temperance, Patience, Humility, Charity, Love, Strength, Endurance, Power to bless the lives of others, Abilities to build up the Kingdom at a rapid rate, and many more. It isn't enough just to demonstrate an attribute without asking our Father in Heaven Himself for the strength to improve & to rise up to our potential in everything that we do. I challenge all to pray for love & charity to swell up in their hearts on a daily basis, and by so doing, I promise you that you will be happier & find success more abundantly in your lives. This is my humble prayer for all, and I say it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope that you all have a great week! I love you Mom, and was touched by your sweet words on Sunday at the fireside. Thank you for your example & for being a "trooper" there are many who look up to your example! I hope that you feel the love of our Father in Heaven each and everyday as President Holmes promised! I still would like to hear your thoughts, and impressions on my setting-apart, especially Grandpa Grant's blessing. I remember Reggie Walbeck well, I did not know that he was serving in Roswell that is so cool! Tell his mom that I say hello to him. I am loving it here in El Paso. Especially, the other day as I was standing in Circle K getting a Coke I heard "Silver Bells", & then the song changed & I thought that it was a bit strange to be hearing "Winter Wonderland" in 75 degree, sunny weather, but I am wearing a sweater. I guess that is kind of Christmassy right? Haha, I will keep you updated about the weather & the adventures. I saw some Duck Dynasty toys in Walmart & laughed so hard. I will take some pictures. Thank you for the cute pictures of Ellie! Hayley has gotten big! Liv just chickened out like I did, when I decided to put Call of Duty before the Lord that one New Years....At least she was prepared. I am going to make her a promise: If she prays to have the ability to leave her comfort zone & reach out to someone or make a new friend each week she will be able to open up so much more. Just by talking to people as a missionary I have been able to improve my Spanish immensely, maybe I will speak some on Christmas to you who knows ;); by listening to these people & by watching their it may sound weird....lips. I can almost roll my rrs! Finally! I hope that all is well & that you continue to share the Gospel with those around you just by bearing your testimony & in the spirit of this season, serving just as Christ would! :) I will think of something that you can possibly help with. Have a great day & know that you are all in my prayers daily!

Much Love,
-Elder Sterling G. Richards