Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 6: Pampa, TX

Knocking doors is one of the hardest things to do during the week. We encounter some of the rudest people I've ever seen. Some people just look through the window to see who it is then they roll their eyes and walk away. But you know what? It's all worth it. In the past week Elder Arredondo and I have set five baptismal dates for next month. Two of these people we found by knocking doors. We taught Omar and his wife Anna the first lesson on their porch and Omar really liked the idea of the Priesthood. He wants to get baptized by the proper authority! Isaac, who I mentioned last week, wants to read the entire Book of Mormon before his baptism next month and he came to church yesterday with Angelica! Lupita and her family also came to church! It's amazing how we find ourselves truly caring about these people after such a short time of knowing them. This is why I am out here, to help people get on the right path to heaven. "And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"(D&C 18:16) Such a motivating scripture that reminds me daily of my purpose as a missionary. I am so happy to be out here serving a mission! I'm so glad the members here like me a lot and that I have been able to gain their trust. Elder Arredondo told me that he never used to get any dinner appointments before I got here, now we have dinner with members almost every day of the week. I feel like I'm making a huge difference here already and I won't settle for less than success. I can't wait for General Conference in a couple of weeks! I really need the counsel of our leaders. Hard to believe that it was a whole year ago I was driving up to Utah with my boy Elder George to be in the presence of our prophet and apostles! By the way, Elder George and I have been in good contact and we learn from each other every week! I know Elder Larson is doing great as well! Seems like just yesterday we were sitting in my living room playing Xbox...hahah Anyway, thank you again for all of your letters and packages!!! Got a pretty sweet care package last week! I know you all want pictures but I just always run out of time whenever I try and load them up. I'll get to it! Oh I wanted to share a quick experience I had last week... This less active member called us up on Friday and asked if we could give her mom a blessing. Her mom was hooked up to life support at the hospital and wasn't looking too good. We headed down there and my comp was reviewing how to give a blessing in the car. As we walked into the room they were in we saw Sister Mariscal there waiting for us. She immediately asked if I would give her a blessing first.. She doesn't speak English so I knew I'd have to do it in Spanish. I was so nervous! But I calmed myself down and gave her a blessing the best I could. I spoke almost perfect Spanish! I felt guided by the Spirit in what to say. Elder Arredondo then gave a blessing to her mom. You could literally feel another presence in the room, which seriously freaked me out! But it was a good presence, that by the power of the Holy Priesthood which we hold, we were able to bring into the room.

The weeks are going by way too quick. There's so much work to be done here. Yesterday we went to another area of ours which is the city of White Deer. We went knocking after meeting with a new convert and preparing him for the Priesthood. While knocking we met a dude named Jaimee. He's a marine that just got back from Afghanistan last week, really cool guy! We kind of follow a pattern of questions when we talk to people at the door and it was as if Jaimee new exactly what we were gonna say before we said it. We explained to him about the Restoration of the church through Joseph Smith and he was totally into it! He showed great faith in believing that Christ has more for us. We gave him a Book of Mormon to read and we're going back tomorrow to give him a Bible and teach him the first lesson. So legit!
I'm having the time of my life right now. I've only been out a month and I'm already helping all these people get ready for the waters baptism. I know there's so much more to come on my mission and I can't wait! I hope you are all doing good and doing good things. I'm off to kick these other missionaries' butts in basketball and volleyball since it's district p-day :{D Enjoy the week, make it GREAT.
Much love from Texas,
Elder Rios

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Week 5: Pampa, TX

I know I've said it a lot, but time is literally flying by! I used to think that two years was going to be sooo long, but I've already been out more than a month! I'll be home in no time! So now that I've gotten a chance to really get to know this area, let me tell you about it... 
Pampa is a small city in the middle of nowhere. Almost all of the houses are really old and faded with trash everywhere. Completely neglected. It's a lot of rather poor looking streets. To be honest, this place reminds me of some parts of Tijuana...or Perris. Haha The people are either smoking or drinking when we knock at their doors. But there are one or two neighborhoods that are actually really nice houses. One is right next to the church and the other is a private community. And there are a lot of really nice people too! Those Western accents...if i hear someone say "I'm fixin' to..." one more time! -__- There is a Walmart here and a couple of fast food places. The high school football team sucks. There's a little lake that we can fish at. Other than that, there's no shopping centers or malls or restaurants. I know I'm still in Texas but this is pretty foreign to me! Haha just kidding. I kind of like it, there's less distractions. It's getting so cold here!! I'm talking 35 degrees with 40mph winds yo! Everyone makes fun of me because I'm the California boy used to beach weather. The snow is coming soon as well. I don't have any jackets and I'm not about to buy one at Walmart..... I'll write you privately Dad ;) haha Alright, on to the highlights of the week...
First of all, I mentioned last week that I really wanted to find more people to teach. We now have six new investigators including three families! Hard work truly pays off. Whenever I'm feeling tired or lazy I just think of those people who have been prepared for the Gospel waiting for me to find them. We found one investigator while actually teaching another investigator, how legit is that? This guy Isaac just came by as we were teaching a girl named Angelica on her front porch. He came by to hang out with her but we ended up teaching him and giving him a precious Book of Mormon to study, since he loves to study. Haha He reminded me a lot of you Fernando! Looks and everything! This other family that we're teaching, the mom's name is Lupita and she's already talking about "when I get baptized.." and "after I get baptized.." Her husband has been a member since moving here from Argentina but is inactive. She has an eight year old daughter who also wants to get baptized and younger kids who love listening to us. These are just some of the people we're teaching I just don't have time to write about all of them. We're truly blessed as missionaries in finding people that are willing to listen to us. My Spanish has gotten SO much better!! Dad, you wouldn't know it was me talking haha I'm teaching my companion English while he teaches me more Spanish. Half of our investigators only speak Spanish so it feels so good being able to easily teach them in Español. These Mexican families love me because I'm a "good looking Californian" hahaha it's awesome. The moms are like "so you're going to come back and marry my daughter right Elder Rios?" It's so awkward and funny at the same time!! I'm not even telling you guys this to sound cool or anything, it actually happens! Haha People here are amazed by my shuffling, too! Apparently they've never seen it before? As well as the Dougie and Cat Daddy. I'm bringing swag to Pampa, Texas ;) Holla 'atcha boy!
Everything is going great. I miss my home and family, but this mission thing is pretty fun!! I hope everyone is doing well and staying happy! Thanks for all the emails and letters, they make my day! I'm for sure going to try and send a couple of pictures today from a member's computer because this library doesn't allow you to hook anything up via USB. 
If you guys get the chance, check out this sweet song about some sacrifices one makes in serving a made me shed some man tears. "Hardest Thing I've Ever Loved To Do" by Nashville Tribute Band 

Make this week GREAT..y'all. :) Much love from Téjas,
Elder Rios

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 4: Pampa, TX

I'm loving the life of a missionary. I've been here in Pampa, Texas for only five whole days and I feel like I already know almost every street. Luckily I am in a car! But we have "bike day" on Thursdays. But this Thursday we had to head to the city (Amarillo) to get our car fixed because my companion backed into a dumpster a couple of weeks ago and the church re-sells all of the cars used for missions so we needed to get it fixed. We spent all day in Amarillo with our Zone Leaders while our car was getting fixed. Those guys are awesome and I learned a lot from them just in one day. One of them said they loved my energy and that I will definitely be in leadership positions all of my mission haha I'm so pumped! I have a great trainer and together we are getting a lot of work done. When I got here last Tuesday we didn't have many investigators; I think maybe three people. So I told Elder Arredondo that we needed to find more people to teach. Guess what we did all day Saturday..? Straight up door-to-door knocking. Did you all know that there are Southern Baptists, Northern Baptists, Central Baptists, Eastern Baptists and Western Baptists? I'm exaggerating but jeez everyone is a type of baptist here!! I would say it's 60% baptist, 20% catholic, 10% methodist, 5% other, and 5% mormon. We did find some people who are willing to have us come back this week to have a lesson! This guy Michael was chillin on his porch and as we were talking to him he was like, "Finally the Mormons come talk to me! But can y'all come back when I'm not drinking and smoking?" It was the funniest thing! We're going to visit him while he's bbqing on Saturday. Free food! And college football! Man, yesterday we were teaching this lady Josie and she had the Broncos/Steelers game on.. I wanted to watch so bad!! I miss watching football... Speaking of Josie, we were able to teach her the first lesson and give her a Book of Mormon to read. As I was bearing my testimony to her, and telling her how much we care about her and pray for her, she totally burst into tears! I didn't know what to say but to explain that what she was feeling was the Spirit. I hope that she read and prayed about it last night. She needs help with her family and the Gospel is exactly what she needs. One thing I have learned so far is to never ignore a prompting. We pray in the car every time before going door-to-door and I get these feelings about houses that may not be in our direction and we visit those houses because that's how we found Josie. I feel like sometimes it's not even me walking out there with my backpack full of pamphlets and books. I am directed in everything I do by the Holy Ghost. Freakin awesome. 

Yesterday I was able to go to church here for the first time.. It was so weird. I'm used to the Menifee ward and the Paloma Valley ward where everyone is loud and there's at least a chapel full of people and some in the overflow. Want to know what Pampa ward is like? Picture 1/3 of Sun City ward (no offense) haha and the building is half the size of the La Piedra building. There's maybe five families with kids. The rest are elderly cowboys who love talking. But I love it! I gave a lesson in primary to all the little kids about keeping the commandments. My goal is to see this ward grow while I'm here. I know it's possible. 
I'm having so much fun guys, and I've only been out about a month! Still have two long years ahead of me. Feel free to email me because the mail service here in Pampa is very poor, we are allowed to email family and also friends. I'll close this letter with a quote from one of my best friends, "I'm perfectly fine, don't pray for me. Pray for those I come in contact with..." -Elder Dallin W. George 
I love you all and have a great week full of passion and enthusiasm!! 

Elder Rios 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Week 3: Pampa, TX

Greetings from Texas!! 
Man, I am experiencing culture shock right now coming from the city to pure farmland and abandoned buildings. So my first area is Pampa, TX up in the panhandle. My trainer/companion is Elder Arredando from Tijuana, MX. He is still learning English, it's awesome. Monday morning I woke up at 4am at the MTC, they took us on a charter bus to the Salt Lake City airport where we flew to Denver, CO then hopped on a plane to Lubbock, TX. We were met there by President Augustin and his wife along with the AP's (assistants of the president) Elder Burns and Elder Cochran. We went to the stake center in Lubbock which happens to be in the backyard of the temple, so cool!! They took us through a lot of orientation and paperwork and we had a mini tour of the city. Texas Tech University is right across town, I saw the football team practicing.. it made me miss football! So then we went to the mission home and ate pulled pork sandwiches then all of the missionaries stayed at the AP's apartment for the night. We got up yesterday and did more orientation and also had our interviews with President Augustin. Then came the exciting part, we were assigned our areas! I saw my picture on "The Board" and what city I was going to serve in first. Our group of about 16 missionaries hopped on another charter bus to Amarillo, TX where we were picked up by our trainers and taken to our various areas. I saw nothing but farm land and dirt on the way to Pampa.. we got to our apartment late so there was no time to teach. So today we got up and studied for about 4 hours total (1 hour personal study, 2 hours companionship study then an extra hour of language study for my trainer.) ... We hit up Walmart and I bought necessary things I needed for my apartment. While there, we ran into members of the ward and they were so excited to meet me! We have a lesson at 7pm tonight already!

I will be here in Pampa for the next 3 months in training so if you would like to send me letters or packages the address is:
Elder Ricardo Rios
1601 West Somerville
Apt 714 Pampa, TX 79065
I forgot my USB cord so I'll be sending pictures on my P-Day, Monday. Can't wait to hear from you all!! Hope all is well. Much love!
Elder Rios

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The pictures Elder Rios has sent home so far. Thanks Brenda!