Rescue Test in Action

This week was great! The baptism went through as planned. Tiffany was baptized by her husband Matt. Matt baptized his 8 year old son, Skylar, as well. It was a really neat experience. Matt grew up in this ward when he was younger. He went less active about the time he was 18. The ward council gave us the name when they figured out that Matt and his family moved back into our ward. The rest is history. The baptismal service was very powerful. It was lost of the long time members of the ward who remembered Matt and his family from when they were young. Matt's mom also came up from Southern California for the occasion. It was a very good experience. Elder Miller also came back down for it, so that was cool.

Elder Platt and I upped the numbers this week and we have some promising new investigators that we teach. One is named Luis. He is about 20 and he is friends with a member that was baptized about a year and a half ago. We taught him the restoration and invited him to be baptized, which he accepted. The area is doing really well. We have 3 more baptisms scheduled for before I leave here. We figure I'm out of Salinas in early May. 

The training is going well. Elder Platt is adjusting to missionary life very quickly. As long as missionaries go out and go to work they are happy. It is the missionaries that don't work that have trouble. Elder Platt falls into the first category. He's a good companion. 

Thanks for all the love and support. 

have a good week,
Elder James Richards


So this week has been quite a change. My new companion's name is Elder Platt. He is from Longmont Colorado. He is a great guy and a hard worker. We kept up the pace this last week that Elder Miller and I set. It is going to be good. We actually have a baptism this weekend! Our investigator named Tiffany will be baptized on Saturday. It is the result of a part-member family. Her son will be baptized at the same time, but he is 8, so he will technically be a child of record baptism. Oh well. Eternal salvation is eternal salvation. It is interesting that the world-wide leadership broadcast talks about "real growth." Elder Clayton talked a lot about real grow in the rescue test evaluation meeting I went to with Elder Miller in early December. It is like they are inspired or something... Elder Perry will be coming down on march 6th for a mission conference. This is the mission to be in for cool pilot programs. 

The other cool thing that happened this week was we got a referral from Gina. Her name is Vanessa and she has been searching for something to help her get out of the downward spiral her life is in. She is kind of at the same spot that Gina was when we started teaching her, but not nearly as bad. Gina's changes have really attracted a lot of her old friends. They see how happy she is and how much the gospel has blessed he life, and they want that. She has been a real example. She had a hard time when Elder Miller left, but she has gotten over it, so she'll be ok. 

The area is doing really well. Elder Platt will be great and We are really working hard.

Thanks for the prayers and mail

-Elder Richards

Training the breaker.

So HUGE changes have been made since I wrote you last. Today was the
transfer meeting and Elder Miller is officially out of here. President
had him go play Zone Leader up in Santa Cruz with a companion named
Elder Miller. President had told him it would be a zone that has been
struggling and we had been postulating Santa Cruz and we guessed
right. I learned a lot from Elder Miller. He taught me how to work and
how to really be a good missionary; how to lose myself and go to work.
I would tell you the name of my new companion, but I don't know it
yet. I will be training for these next two transfers. I won't meet my
new companion till Thursday, so I'm with another Elder who will be
training in Monterey. It is a little daunting training so young in the
mission, but I just need to keep working as I have and we'll be ok.

This week was rough for Gina. She was worried about Elder Miller
leaving. She was afraid since we have been such a rock for her, or
"pillars" as she calls us. That feeling was dissipated after the
outgoing fireside. Elder Curtis, the Elder I replaced in Salinas, and
the one that found Gina, was going home. We brought Gina up and she
was one of the recent converts that bore her testimony. She did a
great job and really felt the spirit. We taught her last night, and
she was still sad about Elder Miller leaving, but she wasn't afraid.
Sometimes in peoples' gospel progression, they take dips and slides.
If they are truly committed though, then they will always bounce back
and even higher than before.

Lastly, Elder Miller and I went out with a bang. We taught 33 lessons
this past week! We had two days where we taught 7 lessons. We can see
the hard work paying off. We have a baptism on the 25th and the 31st
of March. Both are the wives in part-member families, and both are
doing very well. We also have a more shaky date for the 31st, but he
came to church for the first time. The person getting baptized on the
25th is Tiffany. She has a son who is 8 who is getting baptized on
that day, and expressed a desire to be baptized on that day. This is
actually moving her date up from late March. She is very prepared and
is now very excited for her new baptismal date. She will be one of the
first lessons we get to teach on Thursday with the new Elder.

Hope all is well. And I totally forgot it was valentine's day today,
so Happy Valentine's Day.

-Elder Richards

Also check out the website about the pilot program in the mission,

Playing Ninja.

The Salinas District.

A screwdriver and a bunkbed.

This week has two themes. Service and fasting. I did a ton of service
this week. As part of the new pilot, Just Serve, missionaries are
placing an emphasis on service during daytime hours that would
normally be down lesson times. We are now volunteering at the food
bank on a weekly basis. We also put all my tools to good use when we
were setting up bunk bed for a recent convert. It has been incredible
the support that the ward has lent. All of a sudden she has a washer
and dryer and some spiffy new bunk beds.
I was also up in Watsonville this week when Elder Miller had to be up
at a meeting in San Jose. It was cool because I got to be with Elder
Howard, who was in my MTC district, and another Elder for most of the
day. We helped people move, and at another food bank. We got a call
from a sister in the ward and she got in a car wreck and she wanted a
blessing. We gave her a blessing and I didn't think much of it until
Sunday. Turns out it was our investigator's wife's mother. We gave her
a blessing as well after our lesson with them.

Another cool thing this week was fasting. We were short of our goal on
Sunday and were down about 5 lessons. Turns out we taught 6 with two
lessons with investigators that fell into our laps. I think the Lord
wanted us to sweat a little bit this week....

This is the last week of the transfer and probably the last week Elder
Miller and I are together, and we are going out with a bang. We are
going to try to teach 30 lessons! We haven't even come close to that
before, so we have some good plans for the week. I'll probably stay
here next transfer and Elder Miller will go somewhere for his final
two. It will be a little intimidating to take over the area, but it
will be ok since our teaching pool is so large. As long as I get
another companion that wants to work, then we'll be ok.

Thanks for all of the support
-Elder James Richards


This week was great!

We were at the beach on tuesday for our zone activity and since my companion is MisterElderZoneLeader, we stayed much longer and  had more prep then everyone else. Not complaining though, since we got to go to the beach! Of course we didn't go swimming, and I wouldn't have gone in anyway. The water was freezing. But President Watkins actually approved it, and so we went. It was a good time: rugby, soccer, grilling, and general fraternizing with the zone. The zone here is really united with really strong missionaries. No trouble makers here.

We continue to do well on our goals. We saw real blessings from a zone fast we did last monday night. On Sunday one of the investigators from a part member family who had been kind of flaking our came to us and said she still wanted to wait on her baptism, but she wants her son to be baptized soon. His date is now February 25th. We are more confident that she will be baptized now. Among other things, the the fast was incredible. It helped a ton with the whole zone. The zone broken a mission record for lessons taught.

I know I talk about numbers a lot, but it isn't all about them. We have been really getting to know and love all of the families and individuals we teach. One of them is a less active by the name of Brother Mclarney. He was baptized about 35 years ago in Bishop, California, and was active for a little while but then stopped going. He has been religious his whole life and kept a decent testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon as his life has gone on. He is now coming back to church consistently and has asked us how he can get a temple reccomend. We are helping him set goals to get a patriarchal blessing, do baptisms in the temple, get the Melchezidek Priesthood, and then go to the temple for himself. Gina, our most recent convert, is moving forward nicely. She is still struggling with some word of wisdom/ addiction problems, but they seemed to be lessened as time goes on. The support from the ward is incredible and her testimony continues to grow. She will actually be sharing her conversion expirience and testimony at the next outgoing fireside, on February 12th, since Elder Curtis, the missionary that preceeded me here, and the missionary that started teaching her, is going home. She has also expressed a desire to get to the temple in 10 months, so we are helping her work towards that. There are always people behind the numbers, and for those of you that haven't been on missions yet, that is important to remember. If you care about the people first, then the numbers will come.

I can't believe I have been out 4 months already. At this pace I'll be home in about 12 days.

Love you all,

-Elder James Richards
We buried a Tongan. I promise I didn't actually step on their heads...

Most of the Elders in the zone.

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