Wednesday, November 25, 2015

...grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

Where do I even begin!  This is going to be my last email as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  As I said in last weeks email, I would never in a million years, trade anything for my mission.  Even if someone was offering for me to meet the Prophet.  I am so grateful for this time to teach the people of the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission.  I am so grateful to know that the Lord called me with all of my weaknesses to come and that he trusted me to do this.  I am so grateful for the people that I have met here.  They have changed my life.  I am not the same person that I was 18 months ago.  And in all honesty, I am so grateful that I am different.  The point of the Atonement is for us to change.  That is really something that I have come to notice on my mission.  So speaking of my changing, there is something that I haven't really told anyone before. And now it is about to be known to the world.  My whole life, I have had the HARDEST time comparing myself to others.  I have 4 fabulous sisters, and 1 amazing brother.  Growing up with all of them I always felt like I was not really all that important.  I thought my parents loved them more than me, were more proud of them than me and so on.  (Now I know how wrong I was.)  Anyways, so for years I have struggled with the thoughts of having to be as great as my siblings.  I thought that I would be the biggest failure in the world if I didn't live up to my siblings accomplishments.  So then I came on a mission, and had the best trainer in the world!  I wanted to be just like her.  I started comparing myself to her.  I know that she and I were supposed to be together in Hesperia.  I started to realized how little I knew about being on a mission, and what it took to be out here.  I started back to my old ways, and went back to comparing myself to others.  Luckily Sister M was always there to encourage me.  Sometimes I was super mad at her, but she knew that it was what I needed to change and become better. ( I am so grateful for that by the way.  Thank You!)  
Months later, my mom sent me a letter about comparing myself, and it really helped so much.  The letter also included a talk that was written by a young woman in my ward back home.  The letter got me thinking about how every single one of us is important to Heavenly Father.  I learned how to really come to the Savior and use the Atonement to change.  I was sick of trying to be the next best missionary.  I wanted to be the missionary that Heavenly Father wanted me to be.  I wanted to quit comparing myself to others.  There is a reason that we all have different personalities.  We all have to be different.  That is how Heavenly Father's Plan is for all of us.  I really learned to turn to the Lord, and trust Him with the things He had in store for me.  I knew that if I was always trying to be someone else that I would be hindering myself and the Lord's work.  I didn't come on a mission to make a new list of regrets, so I decided that day to ask the Lord for help.  I wanted to change.  I wanted to become the best that I could be.  That day has changed my life.  It has helped shape me into the best missionary that I could be.  I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  That is the only reason that I was able to change.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ can and will help you change.  I can promise you that.  You have to put in your part, but the Lord will make up the difference.  That is another thing I have learned.  Grace is so crucial for us to change as well.  In True to the Faith, The phrase “after all we can do” teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him. The Lord has commanded us to obey His gospel, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  This is what I have been teaching people for the last 18 months.  They can change.
So many people have changed since I have been out.  Like I said, I have changed! So much, and I am so grateful for that.  I met Constance.  She literally changed her life for the Gospel.  She is a such a great example to me, and her faith and testimony are sometimes the thing that has pulled me through to the end of that day.  I am so grateful for her.  She is one of my best friends in the whole wide world.  I am so grateful she is still working toward more covenants.  I will be there for them! 
Others that really had a major influence in my life was my loving STL's last transfer.  Sister C and Sister A are the best! They helped me when I thought there was no other way.  They had patience and were so loving when I needed to change.  They laughed at my jokes and really that was one of the first times I learned how to help myself on the mission.  
My trainer I mentioned above, Sister M.  She was so patient and I am sure that she is just sitting there laughing at this.  She really taught me what it meant to be a missionary.  She was exactly what I needed for those 3 transfers.  She is an amazing lady, and I am so lucky to call her Mission Mom.  She sure taught me a WHOLE lot.  This leads me to two other amazing sisters.  Sister T and Sister C2.  Holy Cow.  Who would have ever thought 3 sisters on bike could have as much fun as we did.  Who could have thought we could teach and grow all together.  These sisters were there when my testimony was not the best.  They were there to really pull me back out of the comparing myself rut.  They were my saving angels.
President and Sister H are next.  Never have I seen a couple with as much stress and responsibility as they have, deal with all of it with such ease.  They are the best people to lead and guide our mission at this time.  They are pushing us to become better and all the time they were my "parents" on the mission.  Sister H sat through doctor visits with me, and President H emailed me advice and encouragement every week.  I am so grateful for those emails.  They have really helped me a whole lot.  There are so many people that I am sure I have missed.  Know that everyone I have ever talked with, even those who I just talked with on the street or at their door, have taught me some principle that I know will help me.

This last week was a whirlwind.  Many people are leaving for vacation so I had to say goodbye to them.  That was hard.  But we went on exchanges, and Sister C and I were together for 24 hours.  It was some of the best 24 hours of my life.  I guess that it is just a taste of what Friday and Sunday will be like when we are companions again for the temple trip and the departing devotional.  We were able to see a lot of people, and ended on a miracle.  We decided to go eat a milkshake and talk about exchanges.  While we were there, we saw this lady that they had been working with.  It was such a miracle, because her phone had shut off and the sisters were having a hard time getting a hold of her.  They set up a time, and Sister C told me they have been seeing her almost everyday.  What a great miracle!  
We also had 3 little boys get baptized on Saturday! It was such a great day! We were all so spiritually exhausted.  I am so grateful for Jesse, Jordan and Brian.  They are all the best little boys!  We (8 missionaries) sang Lead Kindly Light, with one of them playing guitar.  The Spirit was there and from what we have heard, so many people loved the baptism.  I spoke at Brian's Baptism, and talked about how our covenants are related to a Kit-Kat.  
K-Keep your commandments
A-Always remember him 
T-take his name upon you.

This was such a great week.  I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I am not perfect, but I am perfect (at times) at trying.  I still have a problem at times of comparing myself, but then I remember how great our Savior is and that He can help me.  I can promise you all that the Lord will succor you in your time of need.  He can help you to change.  I know it doesn't take a mission to change everyone, but that is what it took for me to change.  I know this church is true.  I know Heavenly Father is there for all.  I am so grateful for the opportunity that we have to pray.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  It will allow us to grow closer to God than any other book in the whole world.  I can promise you If you ever become discouraged or feel too weak to continue living the gospel, remember the strength you can receive through the enabling power of grace. You can find comfort and assurance as you pray to the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”.

Thank you for all that you have done for me.  I love you all so much! Thank you for the love you have given me on the mission.  It has helped me become such a better person!  I am so grateful for the time that I have had to serve the Lord.
Love you all so much! 
Sister Amber Rietz

(I don't know what my email is for back home, but I'll email you from it.)
Sister Amber Rietz
6541 Woodruff Place
Rancho Cucamonga, Ca
Squash for friends

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