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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Letter from the Mission President

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Zabarte Rd. cor. Ilang-Ilang Street, Almar Subdivision
Camarin, Caloocan City

25 August 2016

Mr and Mrs William Richards
11129 Snow Peak Lane
South Jordan, UT 84095
United States

Dear Brother and Sister Richards:

Sister Bertin and I are excited to have your son, Elder Joseph Porter Richards, with us in the Philippines Quezon City North Mission.  He completed his training in the Philippines MTC and he is now officially working in the mission field.  We had the opportunity to meet with him and get acquainted.  We were impressed with his testimony and desire to serve the Lord through his mission.

We feel that he is well prepared to serve the people here in the Philippines.  He will have the privilege of changing the lives of many people as he teaches and takes them to the waters of baptism.  His life, in turn, will also be changed forever through his experiences here. 

We would encourage you to follow the advice of Elder M. Russell Ballard and obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel.  Tell your missionary that you are studying it and ask him to share with you the things he is learning as he studies.  This will bless your family and your son.  We want him to be a “Preach My Gospel scholar.”

Missionaries serve with an “eye single to the Glory of God.”  Their entire focus, therefore, needs to be on their work and ministry.  Help and encourage him to do this. Please do not mention how much time is remaining for him, or special events you may have planned for him on his return, as this will only act as a distraction to his service.  With your encouragement he will mature and progress beyond your expectations.

We have enclosed pictures taken upon Elder Richards’s arrival.  Please make an extra special effort to keep in contact with him through email or letters of encouragement and support. When missionaries receive letters in the mission field, it is the highlight of their week.  Please encourage your missionary to be obedient to the mission rules. Being obedient to these rules will help ensure the spiritual and physical safety of your missionary.

For your information, Elder Richards’s release date has been set for 27 Jun 2018, to coincide with the mission’s transfer day schedule.  Please be assured that we will do our very best to make this a wonderful and fulfilling experience for him.  Thank you for your support.

Sincerely yours,

President Bertin's Signature
President Kim C. Bertin

Philippines Quezon City North Mission

 Elder Richards and President and Sis. Bertin                              Elder Miller and Elder Richards

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Best Email EVER!

It was not a PDay and my email went off saying that I had received an email from Porter, I opened it to find this:

Hey mom I forgot to pay my tithing on my last paycheck I received. 
Will you please pay 9 dollars to the church and tell Bishop Stepan 
it is from me. Thanks! 

Love and miss you

Elder Richards 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happy Birthday to my Companion

No group email this week. Below is part of an email to his parents.

This week was one of the hardest weeks I've had. For many reasons but Satan was just working on me hard. I remember how down I was this week and was just quite frankly just sad I was. It came to the point where I didn't know what to really do. I sat down and said a prayer. Then all the sudden my teacher Brother Antolin came over to me a little while after a gave me a compliment on my teaching. Was it that big of a deal? No, but it was exactly what I needed to hear to make me feel better and endure.

Jordy is good, he is kicking butt at DL. He loves people so much and I can always learn from that.

A party for Elder Peterson.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Week 4: Best week so far.

Hey All!

Wow! What a week. Proselyting was the craziest thing... like I'm almost speechless. I went on an exchange with someone from the Quezon City mission which is pretty close to mine. My companion for the day was a Filipino. And yes your typical Filipino, I towered over him. The surroundings we taught in were heart breaking. The houses aren't even houses. They are just tarps help up by string. How any human lives and can live in those conditions blows my mind.
The family we went and taught was the Moulton Family. They are less actives who really struggle with the Word of Wisdom. As we first showed up to the "house", we kicked our shoes off and walked in. Thankfully the house had concrete floors. As we began to say hi, I really struggled with speaking the language. Like everything they have taught in the MTC was a lie.
The family didn't speak anything I knew. So I sat there sweating (not just cause of the heat) but because I was so nervous. The family was so sweet to me still and wanted to talk to me so much. They didn't speak English to well but my companion would translate for me. Bless his soul. As my companion began teaching, I just focused on the less actives faces, because I've learned that if I can't understand their mouth, I can always understand their body language. So I was sitting there watching when all the sudden my companion turns to me and says, "and now Elder Richards will read these scriptures and explain them". My heart just dropped. I didn't have a set of Tagalog scriptures so I had to do my best of translating them. I said a quick prayer in my heart, and began to do the best of my ability and something crazy happened. I wish I could say that all the sudden I was speaking perfect Tagalog, but instead the feelings of the Spirit came over me and gave my heart ease. I can tell that the Spirit also touched the Moulton's. As the lesson went on they accepted the invitation to go to church last Sunday, which is one of the coolest things you could ask for. We ended the lesson with me bearing testimony and saying the prayer in Tagalog. I learned through that experience that I don't need to know the language perfect, as long as the Spirits in the room. I can testify to the strength of the Holy Ghost. 

After the lesson it began to pour rain. The family was so accepting and nice that they offered us crackers and hot chocolate. That may not sound like much but to those people it was everything they had. There house was probably 10 feet x 10 feet. They had a couch, a TV, and a stove. They fed us our treats on a spare chair that was lying around. It still breaks my heart to think about. 

It rains everyday here...

Something real cool is while I was out with my companion last week, we rode a Jeepney. Talk about a crazy form of transportation. My big butt barely fit on it. And it didn't help that my head was touching the ceiling so I had to slouch for an hour. It was SO cool still though. I just love being out here.

One of the craziest things about serving a mission is the 2 days I look forward to are P day, and Sunday. I never would have said that back home but once you are out here Sundays become the best. I never want Sundays to end. Nothing crazy has happened besides proselytizing. I just can't wait to get out but I do love how say and secure the MTC is. Like how I know that my food is safe to eat and that it will always be ready for me to eat whenever.   

Love and miss y'all.

Elder Richards

Elder Rogers: The Coolest Australian Ever!

We think we are all that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

3 Weeks down: A maid anyone?

Well the past 2 weeks have had the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know its all for the benefit of me, but hot dang I want to be let outside so I can interact with real people. I want to spread the word and touch real lives. We go out proselyting for the first time tomorrow and I am SO pumped. These people do not know what is about to hit them.

The food has been pretty good recently. Well if you consider rice, veggies, and some type of meat good. (What I've learned is you never ask what you are eating until you've eaten it). Thankfully I haven't dropped any weight yet.

All the Filipinos in the MTC left yesterday which was heartbreaking. We went from 170 at the MTC to 20. I never knew I could form such great relationships after 19 days. They had me in tears when they were saying their final goodbye. "Guapo" and I hit it off and we call each other brothers which is so funny. 

Before my roommates left we had a "Family Bro Evening". The Filipinos way of showing their love was to tell us "Americans" what they love about us. I could feel the love these people have for me, and the love Heavenly Father has for them. They are going to be such great missionaries. As my Guapo brother got up to talk (he doesn't speak English well), he looked me in the eye and said (in Tagalog) "You and me are brothers for eternity. You are like my brother back home and I thank you for that. I love you and thank God for you." I couldn't tell what his words were in the moment, but I could feel the love and the bond me and him have. You don't need to always know what is being said if the Spirit is touching you. Me and Guapo afterwards just hugged each other and shed some tears. The MTC since they've left has been so lonely and quiet. I am looking forward to when the next batch shows up.

A couple of quick stories..  I had had a really rough day and when I got back to my room my bed had been made, the room had been cleaned, and there was a treat on my pillow. And I was thinking to myself, man these cleaning people are so sweet to me. It was just what I needed after such a hard day. Well the next day when I got to class I told everyone that our room was clean and how cool the cleaning people are, and they looked at me and said, "Elder Richards, there are no cleaning people here." As soon as I heard that, my heart dropped and I began to cry. I realized that the 2 Filipinos in my room that I had been telling all my hardships to, are the ones who had done all those sweet things for me. When I thanked them for it, they looked me in the eye and said,     "We just wanted to try and help you out". 

My companions and I went up to our room right after our roommates had left for their perspective mission and where sad as is. Well we opened up one of the closets and in it was 4 notes (one to each of us, and then one to our companionship). In the note it said how grateful they were for us and how great they were thinking we were going to be. A little ways down the note it said, "I know we don't have many possessions, but this is what we can give." And there were 3 key chains that they had left each of us. These Elders did not have much money to begin with but what they did have, they got us a little something to remember them by. That just goes to show how sweet these people are. I love them.

Yesterday when I got back to the room after lunch. I was still kind of down at the time and was trying to find a purpose for serving a mission. Well I wanted a treat so I opened up my bag, and when I did that a note fell out. And it was a note from Mallory. As I began to read it, I began to cry and become so grateful for her in my life. The note said how proud she was and how she knew I was being a good example and bringing others to Christ. That note is exactly what I needed to read to lift my spirit.  I realized how much of a testimony Mallory has and what my purpose is for being out here. My purpose to get me through the hard days is to be an example to Luke and Mal and show them how this gospel blesses people. 

Lots of tears may have been shed this week but I truly love being here. Prayers for tomorrow while I'm proselyting that I will find those who need and want the gospel.

Love you all,

Elder Richards
The roommates!

Manila MTC

Guapo!  "The Handsomes!"