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Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Hello to all my loved ones and Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween here and it's really not celebrated like in the United States. We celebrated by cleaning our apartment this morning. After being at the wifi bar it will then be a normal Pday with shopping, cleaning our clothes and reading. The only thing different with today is we can't go work tonight because since it is Halloween people party a little to much and things could happen to missionaries. So we have to have a curfew of 6:00 pm just in case.   :)

The weeks continue to get better. My companion, Elder Miller, his visa expires a week earlier than expected so he is actually going home a week before transfers. So I will get a new companion for a week, then a different companion a week after. Sadly we didn't have any baptisms this week but that is ok. Everything is on the Lord's timetable and He truly knows when everyone is ready to make covenants. 

My mom asked me how often we get fed by the members in our ward. Elder Miller and I do not get fed to often by members here. We are actually in quite a poor area so most people can't afford it sadly. But I do have to say that even though they do not have much, when they have an opportunity to give Elder Miller and I a treat, they don't even think twice about. And just to give you an idea of how generous these people are, 1 dollar there goes to about 47 pesos here. And meryenda "treats" cost about 7 pesos. And most these people can't afford that for their families. Very heart breaking to think that people can't afford 10 cents worth of food to feed themselves. Very humbling in several aspects. Here in Hagonoy we only have Jollibee if you have ever heard of that. Its an even crappier version of McDonalds. But its all we have so you gotta love it. :)  Other areas have actual restaurants like in America but like I said, the place I am assigned isn't to wealthy of an area. We do eat at Jollibee's about once a week just because it is so easy and we don't have to cook. 

Some of my favorite people in my area just had a baby. Rowena and Nikko. Rowena is an investigator and Nikko is a less active. Their baby's name is Rica Joy. They told me when we were visiting them at the hospital that I was the Godfather. As you can imagine I was pumped. Lets just say that I am going to spoil Rica Joy while I have the time here. My Goddaughter deserves the best ;)   (yes I am a protective over her.)

As my time continues to be less and less with Elder Miller, I have come to have a certain love for him. I have learned the good, the bad, and the ugly from him. I sure will miss him and the comfort I have being with him. I had another companion exchange this week with Elder Gumban. It is always cool to learn from other experienced missionaries. One thing that Elder Gumban that told me, when the opportunity presents itself, you bare testimony on the Restoration with everything that is in your heart. Yes people can deny your message or not believe what you are saying, but people can not deny the feelings you have or the feelings they have after you testify. 

I hope everyone has a great week and continues to love where they are at in life. Miss and love you all.

Elder Richards

Monday, October 24, 2016

They needed it more than I did

This week had a little bit of everything. It started with companion exchanges which went great. I went with Elder Lorenzo, and lets just say that this guy is a stud! I can tell he is a spirit lead teacher because I could not tell you what he actually said when he was teaching, but I could feel the Spirit with every word. I learned a lot from him on how to become a better missionary. The next day though I woke up just sick as could be. I woke in just in the sweats on numerous occasions, but the hardest part is I was still so cold. Quite the predicament, cold, but sweating. This cold/flu lasted a few days but I still worked everyday. And I am glad I did because I had a learning experience that I will not forget. As Elder Miller and I were out proselyting I remember just thinking, "Why am I doing this? I should just go home right? I mean I am sick." A phrase then came to me "Because of Him".
No phrase has hit my quite as hard as this did at this moment. So after thinking this I took one more step, then another, then another until we reached the appointment. After that appointment I began to think to myself the exact same things as earlier. But the phrase once again popped to my mind. So I did as I did before, I took one step at a time until the day was over. I know that if we always think remember that whatever we are doing is for Him, we can find the energy and desire to go the extra step or the extra mile.

On Saturday we had a district baptism and our baptist was Sister Angelica. She is such a cool person and her whole story is one that I will never forget. The crazy thing that happened is while we were at the church, I left my bag in relief Society room while we went to the chapel to hear the talks that were to be given. When I returned to my bag, all the zippers were open, and my wallet was gone. I was l, crap, now? Well of course being at a baptism I didn't want to make a stink about anything so I kept quite until everything was over. So after the service I informed anyone and asked if they had seen anything. No one knew anything or saw anything so I was a little sad because there were things in my wallet I needed of course. So I said a quick prayer in my heart, and just then I got the feeling everything would be alright. While we were eating dinner at the church, someone came up to me and said, "Elder Richards is this yours?" And lone and behold it was my wallet. All the money was gone, but my bank cards and the important stuff was in there. Always remember God answers prayers. I do wish who ever took my money also took a Lesson One pamphlet.

Look on the bright side of all things.

Love and miss you all. Hope all have a good week.

Elder Richards

Elder Miller and Elder Richards with some members
Another Scenic view of the Philippines

The "Bucket Shower" and bathroom.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Typhoon Karen

Hello everyone from the rainy Philippines, 

How was everybody's week this week? Hope everyone had a good one and is enjoying life. 

Well this week was interesting to say the least bit! It was a slower week when it comes to the work, but a little extravagant when it comes to just being in the Philippines. We had Typhoon Karen hit us this week yesterday. The storm wasn't to bad itself but where I am assigned it floods even when there is just a drizzle out.  When it rains here it rains like cats and dogs for hours. The floods got pretty bad. We weren't able to go to some of the areas because the flood was literally  high enough that  you couldn't get in the door. Directly where I live though it wasn't terrible. It got to about almost shin to knee high. The worst part about it is you just have to take your shoes and socks off  before  you walk i n it. And the water you are walking in is just.. . gross... Elder Miller and I did survive and I enjoyed the new adventure. I know another storm is coming and we are preparing for it.

This week was the first time I really felt disappointed while being in the field. Every night we got home there was just a feeling of dissatisfaction. Its hard to put into words the exact feeling but it was something I did not like. I decided to pray and ask why is this happening? Why do I feel so bad? As I knelt down, I couldn't even get words out of my mouth because a feeling came over me like I already knew why this feeling was there. I had become complacent with myself this week. I had not strived to become better than I was yesterday. So this was a prayer with very few words that needed to be spoken. I learned a lot though. Trials help us learn to grow, and we need to strive to become better day by day. When complacency sets in, you are going down a hard path.

One great thing about this week was I did receive 2 packages. One from my Grandma and Grandpa and one from my family. Thank you so much for the treats. It made my day when I got back to the house and was able to see all the treats that they had sent me . You guys are too sweet to me. The best part wasn't even the treats though, it was just the feeling of love and feeling of home. Love y'all for that.

Here's a couple of answers that some have asked me: I wash my clothes by hand. It can be a pain sometimes because of the amount and the time and effort that go into it, but it sure does humble me in a way that I have not had before.

I haven't eaten anything too crazy recently, but I am learning to cook most Filipino food. To be honest most food is cooked the same, just a few different ingredients.

Strive to better than you were yesterday. I love and miss you all.         

Elder Richards

Walking around after Typhoon Karen

Monday, October 10, 2016

Conference Weekend in the Philippines!

Hi all!

I am a week later than everyone in General Conference. Thankfully we were able to watch conference in English. The Spirit and authority that the Apostles talk with blows me away! The love and compassion these men have for each one of us can definitely be felt through the broadcast. To think if they love us that much, I can only imagine the love our Heavenly Father has for us. They truly are inspired men.

This week was another good week. You can never really have a bad week when you are doing the Lord's work and will. I have learned that we need to just be grateful for everything we are given. When you recognize the little blessings we have been given, the more thankful you become. 

It has been raining A LOT this week. Which made going to the Butterfly Sanctuary even more beautiful and green. (See picture below) (and yes I am holding a Machete like a boss!) 

I don't have any blow away stories this week, but I can say that the Lord is with us always. While walking back home after an appointment, it was pouring rain and I had forgotten umbrella. The walk was about half a mile. As I was walking the flood began to rise little by little, I started to think to myself, "Come on Heavenly Father, why now?" It was a long enough day as is, why allow it pour rain on us? As I was walking in frustration, the song "Army of Helaman" came to mind. As I began to sing in my head the warmest feeling came among me. It allowed me to remember that everything was going to be ok. I will survive. (Truth: It could always be worse.)

I love and miss you all. Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Elder Richards

*Other picture is a small bamboo bridge we have to take to get to another village.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hanging with the Teenagers!

Well where do I begin this week?
This week had its moments but somehow when you are at your lowest, Heavenly Father will pick you right up.

On Wednesday I was having a rough day. I still can't understand these Filipinos well at all, I haven't been given the gift of tongues yet but I keep patiently waiting and practicing, I also can't seem to stop sweating some days, and to top it all off we didn't have any water in our house so we were quite dehydrated. So you can see where I am going with this, it was a rough week!

I was sitting in a lesson with Sister Angelica (who is a progressing investigator) when I was hit with such a touching experience. Sister angelica has had trouble with the Word of Wisdom/coffee, My companion and I had been praying that Heavenly Father would help her overcome this challenge in her life. As we were sitting there in the lesson we asked her how she was doing with the word of wisdom. She looked us in the eyes and said I haven't drunk coffee in a week. Me being quite shocked asked her in my broken Tagalog, "Sister, why is that?" She said every time she drinks coffee, it hurts her stomach and brings up such bad heart burn that she can't drink it. Now you may be thinking that Elder Richards is crazy for being so happy about this. But I know that the Lord answers prayers in any way possible. Whether it be by a miracle or by causing heart burn. :) The Lord will help anyone. Remember when times get hard to talk to the Lord about it. He wants to help us, but He also wants us to ask for His help.

We had a branch half day mission on Saturday and Elder Miller and I were separated and I was put with a few teenagers in the ward. It was my first opportunity to lead a whole lesson in Tagalog by myself... Lets just say I still have some work to do, but I had a great time. I am so impressed with the teens here in the Philippines, they have so much strength and love.

Elder Miller and I continue to hasten the work here in Hagonoy. We had another baptism this week which is awesome. Sadly we won't be able to have one this week because we have the opportunity to watch conference (we are a week behind everyone). I have heard conference was great and touching.

I love and miss you all. Hope everyone has a stellar week.

Elder Richards

The Awesome Filipino Teenagers!

Elder Manapori