Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photos Arrived For Christmas!

Due to the large number of missionaries in the MTC, it would be near to impossible for all of them to call home on Christmas day. Though we were not able to hear Erika's voice, we were blessed to open up a wonderful gift from her. . . . . . photos!!! I am sure that she would love for me to share some of these with you. Enjoy them. MERRY CHRISTMAS, from Sister Erika Riggs!!!

"First day with my companions. (L) Sister Kessler (R) Sister Knudsen"

Hallway of the quarantine building. . ."No, none of us have died from weird diseases. . .yet."

"Just doing some laundry."

"We made "We're Thankful for You" turkey hands for all the elders in our district for Thanksgiving Day."

"Aunty Renee sent me goodies!"

. . .and she shared it with her district. "Shaka for Aunty Renee!"

"With our American Sign Language missionary friends, signing 'I Love you!'"

"With adopt-a-district. . .they reported the same day as us." In front of the Provo Temple.

"The day Sister Kessler left for Brazil and the 'tri'umphant became a regular companionship."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holy Ghost, The Testifier

"This week has been exciting! For starters, yesterday 31 visas came in! All the visas went to missionaries that have been here over their planned 9 weeks."

As Erika's devotes herself to serving the Lord, she has been experiencing spiritual growth. She writes of an experience that she had: "This experience really helped me recognize that it doesn't matter that I don't speak portuguese very well. What matters is that I teach with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is the testifier, not me. This is a huge help to me and I know that I will remember this experience as I go through my mission, trying to speak in a language I barely know."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visas Are Coming Through!

Two of the missionaries in Erika's District have received their visas. One of them was from her threesome companionship.

Erika states about learning the Portuguese language, "Every week we have a personal interview with our teachers to discuss how our MTC stay is going and more specifically how the language and gospel lessons are going. Starting today we are only allowed to speak Portuguese in the classroom. That English at all! I am so stoked because I love Portuguese and now that we will be forced to speak and listen to it, we'll learn it a ton faster. Well one of my teachers...Irmao (Brother) Flanigan was the one that interviewed me. He told me that he was impressed with my ability to pick up the language (Erika has been there for 4 weeks and can speak as well as some 9 weekers)."

As most of you know, Erika loves to sing. "This Sunday the Sisters in our branch are going to be singing the Primary hymn 'Mary's Lullaby' in Portuguese. I love music and the spirit that it brings. Here in the MTC they tweaked the words to 'Bring the World His Truth.' In the MTC it states: 'We ARE NOW the Lord's missionaries.' So true! We are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coordinating Sister

Calling: Erika received a calling (special assignment) in the branch (congregation unit). She says, "I am the coordinating sister which is basically the zone leader for the sisters."

Physical Fitness: "I dove again this past week and got a gym burn on my left knee. Volleyball is super fun!"

Thanksgiving Day: "We had the usual: turkey, potatoes, pumpkin pie. . . .setting up tables for the service project the MTC did later that day. . . .For our thanksgiving devotional in the morning, our speaker was Jeffrey R. Holland! He is a wonderful speaker that speaks with such great power and with the Spirit."

Highlight: "Last Sunday our fireside speaker was Dallin H. Oaks. For reals! Two general authorities in the same week! Things like that make me greatful that I am here in Provo."

Training: "I memorized the first vision in portuguese. . .Today we get to teach an 'investigator' the first discussion. It's where volunteers from the community come in and we practice carrying on a simple conversation with them in Portuguese and then we teach them one of the discussions. "

Saturday, November 21, 2009

District Chupa-Chupa

Erika writes: "I really am loving my district. We have dubbed ourselves district chupa-chupa. One of our teachers served in Mozambique and told us that means lollipop. Our other teacher served in Brazil and said that chupa-chupa translate to mean suck-suck. . .not lollipop. We got such a kick out of it that we made it our motto. So. . . chupa-chupa!"

Apparently, Erika lives in the quarantine building (where missionaries who are too sick to be with their companions stay). Due to the overload in missionaries at the MTC, Erika and her companions live on the 4th floor of the quarantine building. (The quaratine floors are actually the 2 floors below Erikas floor. . . . )

Every Sunday the missionaries have a special teacher for Relief Society (women's auxiliary) and Fireside. This past week Sis. Oaks taught Relief Society and Sis. Sheri Dew was the fireside speaker. Erika sat in the 5th row and had a great view!!

Erika also wrote: "My new love is volleyball. In the mornings I run a mile on the track and then go down onto the court to play volleyball with my companion Sister Knudsen and elders from other zones and districts. Neither of us are very good, but the elders are excited to play with sisters and show off a little bit, so they don't mind. Yesterday I was getting into it and totally dove for the ball. I got it over the net. . . I also got burns on my knee!"

"Today we got to go to the temple for our p-day (preparation day). I love the temple!"

Stacy, Nat, and Amy: Erika gets to see Elizabeth at least every Tuesday night. Elizabeth sings in the MTC choir that performs at the Tuesday night devotional.

Everyone please note that Erika's address has changed slightly.

Aunty Erika (late post)

Erika was due to leave for mission on November 10th. She was due to be an aunt on November 9th. As you can imagine, she was hoping for some possibility of being able to hold and personally meet the baby. Well, her wish came true. Kate Emi was born on November 4th and Erika was able to drive down to San Antonio to meet her on November 5th. Before she left San Antonio on November 6th, Erika left her love behind for Kate by washing all of her new received clothes and hanging them all up in Kate's closet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

First E-mail from the Missionary Training Center

Sister Erika Riggs is in full swing. She has already learned to pray and bare her testimony in Portuguese. She is very grateful that she took Spanish classes in school.

The missionaries normally get up every morning at 6:30 a.m. However, Erika gets up at 6:00 a.m. because her companions (yes, she has 2) want to attend special gym instructions for sisters only. Her companions are Sister Knudsen and Sister Kessler.

She has already run into several people that she knows. Elizabeth, Erika has seen your brother!!!

Unfortunately, protocols for vaccination is slightly different than what I went by when I worked as a nurse. Erika had to get two more shots in the MTC. Sorry, Erika!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Leg of Erika's Mission -- Texas to Utah

We all got up early to escort Erika to the airport. She did great. Her luggage were under 50 pounds!!! . . . . 42 lbs and 49 lbs. . . . .way to go, Erika!!! I am determined to cherish the hug she gave me. . . it needs to last 18 months!! I am so pleased with her decision to serve the Lord. Thank you to her wonderful friends who picked her up the airport in Utah and brought her to the Missionary Training Center. Natalie wrote to me: "Erika looked beautiful yesterday when we dropped her off at the MTC. She seemed so ready and excited to be there." I can hardly wait to receive her first letter/email to me!! (Sorry, in all the excitement I forgot to bring my camera to the airport. . .)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Missionary Models

This is Sister Riggs' mom and I will be updating the blog for the next 18 months.

There were a lot of requests to see the outfits Erika will be wearing on her mission. The dress code is strict for all church missionaries: skirts need to be between mid-calf and ankle length, blouses need to be modest in style and conservative in color. After talking to several returned sister missionaries, they all gave Erika the same advice, "Just because you're a missionary doesn't mean you can't dress cute." She and her sister Jennae really followed this advice as we all went shopping for her clothes. Erika and Jennae had fun modeling a few of her outfits.

The jumper dress she sewed herself!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh Provo...

I got to visit Provo for Halloween and spend time with some pretty amazing people. I am so grateful for the example and encouragement of friends especially my mezz girls. I've lived with these girls for the past three years and they're what makes BYU home. They've seen me at my very best and through my very worst and I am so blessed to have them in my life. Saying goodbye was hard...and I know it's going to get harder still once I have to cut off contact with them. I'm going to turn into one of those missionaries that waits @ the door for the mailman, only I'm not expecting letters from a boy; I'll be expecting letters from my mezzanine girls.  
I flew out of Salt Lake Monday morning and said goodbye to Utah for the next year and a half...or so I thought. As it turns out, my Visa's chances of arriving on time are pretty much nonexistent, and when I got home there was an email waiting for me saying I needed to have my flight changed because I am now reporting to the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center). Well, Provo here I come...again!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vive La Visa

Here's a visa update:
 I sent in all my paper work in the beginning of August and have been waiting for my visa to come in the mail. Two months later, a letter DID come in the mail for me and it WAS about my visa...but it was only saying that Brazil changed their procedures for missionary visa applications and I had to resubmit using an online program...GAH! So I overnighted my new application and have my fingers crossed that this new process will speed things up. 

If my visa doesn't get here on time, I will be reporting to the Provo MTC until it comes in...which means I would be able to see Elizabeth! Look for the good in all things right? :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

1 month and counting

I report to the Brazil Missionary Training Center (MTC) on November 11...meaning I report exactly one month from today. I leave the states exactly one month from yesterday. The countdown of days has begun and after waiting over 4 months, I am both excited and terrified to finally reach this marker. My checklist of things I need to do before I leave is getting shorter and shorter.

Two weeks ago I gave my mission farewell talk. My topic was "Who is my neighbor?" It was a surprisingly difficult talk to write, and I had to take a one word answer..."everyone"... and speak for 12-15 minutes! Heavenly Father really helped me with that one and while studying my scriptures I titled my talk "The four little word question" and then went through my personal steps on how to answer that question.

Speaking of scriptures, I completed one of my personal goals I started when I submitted my mission papers. I wanted to read the entire Book of Mormon again before I left on my mission and today I finished! I love the Book of Mormon! It is the reason I will be serving this mission and what I will be sharing with the people of Brazil. It is truly another testament of Christ's love for all of His children and is the means through which so many of my prayers have been answered. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

8 hours

Starting tonight I'm switching over to mission standards: going to bed @ 10:30...waking up @ 6:30 (well...doing my best to wake up somewhat close to 6:30; I'm not a morning person.) 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Special Guest

This past weekend was the Y.S.A. conference (young single adult) for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. There were workshops and service projects on Saturday, but the highlight (for me @ least) was getting to listen to President Uchtdorf address us for the Sunday night fireside. President Uchtdorf is an apostle and a member of the first presidency for the church.

It is just so amazing that a member of the first presidency would take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to speak @ a Y.S.A. fireside! This church really is for everyone and everyone is important to our Heavenly Father. 

P.S. I found out yesterday that I am giving my farewell talk next week! 

Friday, September 18, 2009


So...while learning more about Brazil and it's culture, I couldn't help but come across a bajillion articles related to the country's obsession with soccer a.k.a. futebol.  

I am super stoked for the world cup which will be going on in South Africa next year! The matches officially start on Friday June 11, 2010 so I will get to be in the middle of all the Brazilian hub-bub. I've been told about past world cups and how Brazil goes crazy every time their team scores a GGOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!! 

Fun facts:
-Brazil has won 5 world cups...more than any other country and has been runner up twice.
-In the 2006 games, 17 of the 23 players on the roster went by a single name i.e. Ronaldinho...who knows what his last name is?
-There is @ least 1 soccer stadium in every Brazilian city

Since soccer is so huge I look forward to getting schooled by some 7 year old kids who have the sport in their blood! Ole ole ole ole!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Connectors according to Gladwell

I've been reading "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. It was required reading for an advertising class I didn't take, but it looked interesting, so I bought it anyways. In one of the first chapters, Gladwell discusses how people dubbed "connectors" are the reason behind social networks. They are the butterflies who introduce everyone they know to each other and are the root behind many friendships.

The book gave an example of listing 40 people in any given person's social network and most of those 40 people would somehow be linked back to one connector. I decided to give this a try and made a list of 40 people in my social network and linked back to who was the source of the friendship. I met lots of people through my friend Jared Aida...but since I met Jared through my roomie Stacy, all of the people I met through Jared wouldn't have been a part of my life if Stacy hadn't been around. Make sense? My lists looked something like this: Jovy-Joe-Curtis-Jared-Stacy

What was interesting about my social circle, was that 12 of my closest friends had no connector...just the church. And those 12 people (mainly Stacy) were the connectors behind the majority of my other friends. The church is a connector, but not for the social aspect...

"A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints."
Abigail Van Buren 

Words of wisdom from Dear Abby :) The church has allowed me to meet the people I need most in my life. It creates a strong support system filled with people who share the same standards, beliefs, and compassion. We are meant to help each other, to learn and grow together. I moved back home...24 hours away from most of my friends, but the church is still true in Dallas Texas and I've already met some wonderful people here who I know will become part of my new social circle.

Friday, September 11, 2009 a bat

I went to my last eye doctor's appointment for the next year and half...and I still have terrible vision. I think eye doctor's s love to toy with people who can't see. (my vision is -5.0 and -6.5) Every single time I go in, they read my chart, take note on my poor eye sight, have me take out my contacts, then ask me to read the letters displayed on the other side of the room. They know I can't see and if I could only squint hard enough to look at their face, I'm sure I would find them smiling at their little joke.  

The appointment was uneventful. I'm still blind...and I still hate that air puff machine.

Before I left Utah, I had my last dentist appointment. After 20 years of going to the dentists, I still don't understand why the hygienists ask me questions expecting me to answer while she has her sharp cleaning utensils in my mouth. 

The appointment was uneventful. I still have receding gum lines (yes, you read that right...who knew it was possible to brush too hard)...and I still hate the gritty feeling of the polish.

I am far from having a perfect body without flaws or shortcomings but I am grateful that I have a healthy body. I am grateful that I am capable of serving a mission that I know will be tiring and difficult. If I am able to live righteously for the rest of my earthy life, there is a blessing that is promised to me and everyone else:

"The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame."
Alma 40:23

My eye sight will be 20/ longboarding scars will go away...and I will finally be able to run more than 2 miles at a time!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Because I don't speak Portuguese...

My mom purchased an intense Franklin translator for me to take to Brazil. It is lighter and smaller than having to heft around a Portuguese/English dictionary which is nice, but that doesn't mean I will be whipping it out while talking with the Brazilians...I want to @ least look like I understand what they're saying. 
Here are some phrases that were programmed into the translator and I will probably use on a daily basis :) 
Tenho tempo para lanchar?- Do I have time to go get a snack?
Poderia me trazer um moedor de pimenta, por favor?- Could you bring a pepper mill, please?
Tenho passaporte belga.- I have a Belgian passport
Pode-se dançar aqui?- Is there dancing here?
Bebi água que não- I drank water that was not boiled

What's going to be hardest for me is the fact that I speak a decent amount of Spanish. Portuguese looks like Spanish when written out...but sounds NOTHING like it. Personally I think it sounds more French. So I'm going to have to forget 7 years of Spanish classes and try to learn Portuguese in 2 months! 

"I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."

I've been studying the "Preach My Gospel" lessons so that I will @ least be able to teach in English and I am learning all I can about Brazil. I know that as long as I do my part, Heavenly Father will do his. Gift of tongues, right?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to go to the Dallas temple and take out my endowment! I was extra blessed that I was able to be there with my parents, my brother Chad, his wife Lyndsay (with the baby), my great aunt Yuri and my grandma (who is a temple worker). It was nice to be able to have family there with me...

There is not a whole lot of information about endowments, not because they are secret, but rather because they are sacred. I feel very blessed that I have lived my life in a way that has made me worthy of this sacred blessing. 

I know that the more I attend the temple, the more fully I will understand the blessings that will come with my endowment. Have I mentioned lately that I love the temple :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Little Miracle

I am back in Texas, but while I was still in Utah, I experienced a little miracle that had to do with my housing. I bought another year's contract for the condo I was living case mission plans fell through. When the doctor's told me I was free from any bizarre diseases that would keep me from turning in my papers, I intended to put my contract up for sale but a good friend told me that she planned to buy it from me, so I didn't post it's availability. 

Three weeks before I was going to go back to Texas, my friend told me that she had a change of plans and was getting ready to turn her papers in for a mission! Of course I was so excited for her...she will be a wonderful missionary, but I was in a pickle. I had my housing contract to sell in less than three weeks and if no one bought it, I would have to continue to pay rent for an entire year. With school starting up at BYU in less than a month, almost everyone that needed a place to live had one (I signed my contract back in February). Although the condo's location is super close to campus, it's a bit pricier than other housing complexes. I prayed that someone would buy my contract and then went and did my part. The next morning I posted my contract on several websites but was disappointed to see lists and lists of housing contracts for sell in the Provo area. Some had been up several weeks before mine! 

Before the day was over, I received an email from a girl who wanted to buy my contract! Less than 24 hours after I posted it available, and with so many other options for her to choose, she decided on mine! Heavenly Father is really watching out for me and I am so very grateful for that! 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Temple Time

I was so lucky and got to spend last week with Jennae Emi! I love my baby sis! During her 7 day stay in Provo we had the opportunity to visit 3 temples: Oquirrh Mountain, Provo and Salt Lake City.

Because the Oquirrh Mountain Temple has not been dedicated yet, we were able to go inside during it's open house and see all the beautiful rooms. Of course my favorite was the sealing room. One of the greatest blessings the gospel brings to the earth is the opportunity for families to be sealed together for time and all eternity, meaning that marriages and families don't end with death. I get to be with Emi Bemi fooooorrreeeevvveeerrrr!!!! Think about that Jennae :)

There isn't a temple in my mission area, so I am not exactly sure how that is going to work. I can't go 18 months without a temple! The closest one to me once I leave the MTC (Missionary Training Center) is in Campinas, which to be honest with you, I don't know how far away that is from Goiania (I am having a hard time finding a map of all the Brazil missions). But I will be learning Portuguese in the Sao Paulo MTC for 2 months, and they have a beautiful temple nearby. There are currently 129 temples in operation around the world, so it's only a matter of time!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Call

I've officially started a blog to let family and friends know all about the mission I have decided to serve for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I have been thinking about a mission since I was in high school (when I accidentally withdrew money from my missionary fund account...oops!) My freshman year of college most of the boys my age left for their missions; boys leave at 19 and girls at 21. Through their letters I got to hear about the opportunities they had in sharing the gospel of Christ and it only made me impatient for my 21st birthday. I wanted to go!

So three months before my 21st birthday (August 16) I met with my Bishop and started my mission papers. I think he was surprised at how
hard I was pushing him to let me start my papers. Not many girls are jumping the gun so early before their birthdays...but I'm a Riggs and that means when I know what I want, I KNOW what I want. You might call it stubbornness; I call it determination.

I had doctor's appointments, interviews with my
bishop, read talks and articles about preparing to serve the Lord and finally finished all my paper work. I didn't have to wait that long before my mission call came in the mail on Thursday June 25...but I couldn't open it until Saturday! Let's just say I kept myself busy and out of the house so I wouldn't have to look @ the letter sitting on my couch.

Finally on Saturday I got to have a few of my go
od friends and Chad and Lyndsay, who were luckily in town that week, come over and watch me open my call.

friends and fam watched me opened it but I started crying so Lynds had to finish for me


There is no doubt in my mind that this is the true church. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ and that the things written in it are true. There have been times when I was struggling with a question or problem and when I opened the Book of Mormon my eyes immediately fell on a verse of scripture that answered them all. Amazing! I am so grateful to have a prophet on the earth who is an inspired man, able to receive revelation that helps me to prepare and encourages me to become better. I have seen the blessings the gospel brings to my life and I am so grateful to know that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to listen and answer my prayers. I am so excited to share this gospel which has blessed me with the people of Brazil.