England London South Mission: July 9, 2015- July 2017
Family/ Friends please send letters to letter address and packages to package address. I will update letter address if a transfer were to take place. Package address will remain the same. Thanks!

Letters Address:
RH11 9GA

Packages Address:
Elder Zachary Rivera
England London South Mission
The London Temple
West Park Road
Newchapel, Surrey RH7 6NB
United Kingdom

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas in England 1/2!!!

The Best Mission in the World!
Hello and Happy belated Christmas to all! 

I hope everyone was able to have a wonderful time with the family and friends to celebrated such
a wonderful holiday. We had a great one over here across the pond! It was a little different not having all the traditional stuff but hey, it was still a wonderful and memorable day! Hope everyone else's was too! Leading up to the new year now, I have been able to reflect on this year and I've sketched out some goals I want to achieve for this coming year, one specific one being reading the four standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) Just one of the many few I wish to achieve while out on the mission during my "Black Year" (full year in the mission field) so we shall see how I do by the time this time of year comes again!

Tuesday: December 22nd, 2015
We were on exchanges today with the Woodley elders and Elder Baum and I had quite the day. So to keep it short, we basically had a ton of rejection while we were out contacting and knocking but the coolest thing happened. Ready? So we were leaving this area we knocked and we saw the bus drive by and so of course we missed it... So we waited about 10 minutes for the next one to come around and then we headed into town. However, the bus driver needed a break so he pulled over to a stop and we waited again for 10 minutes. Then we get a text from a recent convert who needed a visit and so when we finally got back into town we started walking his way and here is where the miracle happened. As we were walking, we were randomly talking about oceans and then a man named Jason came up to us and asked if he could talk to us. Well... Of course! He mentioned he has an impression to talk to us when he couldn't even see our name tags (it was pitch black and we were wearing big jackets because of the rain) but he listened to it and stopped us. So he went through and explained his life story with great emotion and tears. I don't want to exploit all the details but he basically was an atheist his whole life and the last week and half, he has been able to find God in his life and came to know that God is real! He said he wanted to have this wonderful feeling of peace and love he has felt forever and so we taught him and extended a baptismal date on the street! He gladly accepted with tears in his eyes and it was seriously the coolest experience I have had on my mission so far. It just comes to show that our Father in Heaven knows exactly where he needs us when one of his children is trying to find the way to light in this dark and dreary world.
Spoiled Little Missionaries...

Wednesday: December 23rd, 2015
We had district meeting in the morning and then we were at the temple the rest of the day with Scott and we also had to pick up everyone's Christmas packages and letters.

Thursday: December 24th, 2015
Christmas Eve didn't even feel like Christmas Eve... We literally drove for 11 hours today delivering packages to the zone and the Nyman's (Oxford Senior Couple) had us over for dinner and that was well needed because we didn't get to eat all day until that point! It was fun playing Santa Clause for the first time!:)

Christmas Morning!
Friday: December 25th, 2015
Now this... It didn't feel like Christmas whatsoever! It was really strange to see that it was Christmas and I knew it was Christmas, but it just didn't feel the same being away from home. It was still a very great day though! We had a visit with the Bakers and then Tammy. We were spoiled with gifts... I might need an extra suitcase just for my Christmas stuff! Haha. But after we got to Skype home for the first time and that was amazing. It was super nice to see the family and talk face to face. Crazy how it has already been 6 months! What the...! That is seriously crazy!

Saturday: December 26th, 2015
So the 26th is actually a holiday in England. They call it Boxing Day (I don't know much about it so you might want to look it up if you want to know what it is) so we had two more dinner appointments today and then we had to make a video for the Assistants for Training a New District Leader. Umm... Let's just say we were very special during the making of the video... It took us about 30 tries to get it all right without messing up... It was a very funny night.

Sunday: December 27th, 2015
Today we only had one hour of church for some reason but it gave us time to do some Sunday proselyting for once! We headed into a new area we haven't worked yet and the results were very promising. We were talking to one guy who was very interested named Steven and as we finished talking to him, a guy named Brian just rolled up on his bike and said, "hey you want to take down my number and we can setup a time to meet?" Uhhhhhh.... Sure? YES! It was crazy! We just walked off after and were speechless that something like that happened. Funny part is we were on the road we didn't mean to go to so we contacted for a bit on that road before driving to the correct road and that's
Dinner with the Nymans, Danny, Emily, and Joseph
what happened. Again, God puts people in certain places at certain reasons! We have a lesson with him on Tuesday so we will see how it all goes! We finished up with dinner at the Rushforth family home and then accounted for the rest of the night!

So as you can see, there were a lot of wonderful Christmas miracles this week and it really was amazing to have such amazing gifts given to us by our Father in Heaven. I hope that everyone will have a wonderful and safe New Years! Can you believe it is already 2016?!?!?

Love you all and be safe!
-Elder Rivera

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Quacker

Very Merry Christmas to everyone! 

Most decorated home in all England
(not very many houses look even close to this)

I can't believe that this week is already Christmas!!! What... Time seriously flies by and guess what...
We are almost in 2016 which is even crazier! Remember when we were all supposed to die four years ago... Yeah, guess not haha. But this week has been a really good one but a hard one. I personally was getting so much opposition in the work with so many people dropping some serious f-bombs and such and it was just so absurd with how people aren't even happy during Christmas. Come on now... It's the most wonderful time of the year and that's how you act. Anyways... Besides having two people get all up in my space this week (literally about two inches from my face denying the existence of God and the joke of the work we are doing) I stood my ground and defended the cause which made it a better week because I truly felt so good for defending my God and my Savior and
His work. Something big is around the corner for sure! Opposition always before a great miracle! Anyways, hope all is well and that everyone is enjoying this Christmas Season! Here is this weeks scoop!

Cheeky Smiles after getting haircuts
Tuesday: December 15th 2015
So today was interesting. We started by having such a good contacting day and then after that, it kind of spiraled down. Explanation: So, after we had lunch, we had to pay for a ticket because our landlord didn't send us our parking permit in time and the popo got us and so we drove to Bracknell to pay for it but when we got there... We realized something special; we had forgotten the ticket at the flat. So then we had to drive all the way back to the flat and grab the ticket and drive all the way back to the chapel. So now we get there to pay it and then our payment didn't go through so we then had to do it a different way (through a member and we just paid her back) but then... Here we go again right? We drive to Farnborough to do some potential finding and then Elder Richins forgot his satchel at the chapel... So guess what, we have to go all the way back again. haha It was a very long day after that and we just finished with some quick lessons with some recent converts and Victor (our soon to be baptismal date if him and his girlfriend get married soon!)

Wednesday: December 16th, 2015
We went to Oxford for a district meeting and that went super well and then we began our exchange with the Didcot elders. I had a great exchange with Elder Wagaman and we found a couple of potentials that they can teach sometime after all this crazy Christmas stuff cause everyone is busy and traveling.

Thursday: December 17th, 2015
So we got a call early morning from the assistants about some urgent news we had to take care of so that was what we did after we exchanged back and later that night did some service and then dealed with the issue at hand. 'Twas good.

Friday: December 18th, 2015
Elder Yang: Master Chef
We went on exchanges with Basingstoke today and it was a great one. I was with Elder Yang (he is from Taipai) and he was also a professional cook before his mission and so we had investigators request him to cook dinner for the night and he really enjoyed that and then we had a wonderful
lesson with them on Eternal marriage (Victor and his Girlfriend and family) and it went super well and they asked us why we wanted an eternal marriage and we gave them our responses. This was also the day when people dropped some serious f-bombs and got up in my face so it was a great day! I love opposition.

Saturday: December 19th, 2015
We exchanged back at about noon and then we all went District Finding in Bracknell and after loads of opposition again (and another person screaming in my face) we found about 10 solid people for the sisters to teach) We finished up the night with the Bakers and we had a very bold lesson with them on some things that they need to work on and that they have committed to do and so it was effective but frustrating to say the least.

Sunday: December 20th, 2015
Sunday's Sunset!
Today was a good Sunday, very interesting start which I will probably share later in the future but for now, we will keep it at interesting!:) Ask me in the future for the full story! But it was a great day at church, the primary performed the nativity and it was amazing! So many cute little munchkins running around doing their role and it was really good! Later that evening, the Reading stake had their Christmas choir concert and that was AMAZING! We then had our accounting and called it a night!

Monday: December 21st, 2015
So today we are just doing some preparations for the Christmas week and have some cleaning to do in the car and the flat and then we will just resume as normal but we are really looking forward to Christmas this week (that sounds weird...) and then of course, being able to skype home for the first time on the mission field which is exciting and also weird because it has come very fast but I   am really looking forward to it!

Verse of the Week:
Isaiah 9:6
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!!!
I love you all and will talk to you soon!!!

Elder Rivera

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Temple Trip!

Nativity Scene at the Visitor Center

The Reading Zone!
Hello everyone!

Can you believe we are already 11 days from Christmas! That is totally insane... but I'm loving it. So this week was a great one. I managed to snag food poisoning from dinner so my stomach wasn't doing well and my appetite has just came back to me! We had our Temple trip this week to and it was so amazing! I learned so much from the temple and also President Gubler. It was a well needed trip and I also managed to gather some thermal garments so I am super warm now haha!

Tuesday: December 8th, 2015
So again, today was a really good day until dinner came around. I was fine all night and then yeah... enough said there.

Nuff Said!
Wednesday: December 9th, 2015
I was sick all day and not feeling well. I woke up super early and puked and then puked again and so I was stuck in the flat all day until we had a lunch appointment. I slept at the members home and then we had to go to Elder Richins drivers test. He passed so I got to sleep while we drove to Reading. When we got home I passed out after taking some medicine and drinking Powerade to replenish all my lost nutrients haha.

Thursday: December 10th, 2015
Fall makes it look so nice!
So to celebrate my 5 month mark (not intended) we got to go to the temple for our mission Christmas present from President and Sister Gubler. We got to have our temple endowment session and it was so wonderful! It was the Reading, Staines, and Portsmouth zone with us. There was truly so many things I learned that day and the Spirit confirmed so many answers I had from my blessing and also personal questions I had. Like I said, it was a well needed trip and I felt so much better! Glad food poisoning only lasts a couple of hours so I was happy! I can't believe the next time I'll be able to go through the temple again will be a couple of months! It's sad but it just makes the time in there so much more valuable and sacred. Always be in the temple if you can because that is where you will have answers to questions that you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. I love it!

MTC Group Temple Pic!

Friday: December 11th, 2015
Today we were on exchanges with Woodley and we had great day. Elder De Wilde and I went contacting around the University and we met a lot of good people. One was Steven who was fairly interested and then we went and visited Sybil who was just baptized two weeks ago and she is doing so well! She looks so happy! She is a true definition of change and what the gospel truly offers people who accept it. But it was a very well rounded night.

Coca Cola Truck in Reading!

Saturday: December 12th, 2015
Before we exchanged back we had a crazy lesson with this lady named Jenny. She is a Quaker and had so many good questions regarding the Book of Mormon and how it relates to the Bible and how together they come together to bring the fullness of the gospel. She also asked questions about the Priesthood and also of how Apostles are called and if they receive revelation and we just got to answer so many questions that we wish everyone would ask. We exchanged back after that but before that, we had some Mexican burritos for lunch and then we headed home. We had some lessons and then we had a lesson with the Bakers.

London Temple at night!
Sunday: December 13th, 2015
Today was a good day in church and then we had our typical accounting and then we also watched he Christmas Devotional.

Verse of the Week: 3 Nephi 14:14
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

This was a great week and I truly learned so much this week and can't wait to see what this week brings but I love you all!!! Happy Holidays!!!

Talk to you all next week!!!
-Elder Rivera

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Discover Why We Remember December...

Sunrise in Basingstoke!

Hello all of my wonderful friends and family!

I hope the first week of December has treated everyone well and that everyone has been able to get their shopping done for the holidays! People over here have already put up all of their decorations and everyone is embracing the Christmas spirit and I'm loving it! It's crazy busy everywhere you go and there are sale deals everywhere to so loads of shoppers coming in and out of the shops which means... Lots of people to contact! We are planning on wrapping Book of Mormon copies for Christmas and handing them out to people as God's gift to them this year! Hopefully it will all work out the way we plan it to and we will also plan on doing some caroling around a neighborhood or in the town center. But we shall see what happens! Anyways! Here is this weeks rundown of what we did to start off December!

ELSM December 2015 MLC

Tuesday: December 1st, 2015
We had our MLC meeting today and we did A LOT... We went in and went over things that President thought we needed to go over and we also came up with our study plans for December that we would, "Discover Why We Remember December" so we are re reading 3 Nephi to truly get a grasp on the Spirit of Christmas and truly remembering this Christmas season of the things that we have and the things that we have been given and that the lord has done for us. It was a very good day! We also had stake correlation after MLC and that went very well this time around compared to our first one. We had a lot of positive stuff to bring and also take away from it. President Gubler also had everyone watch (with a role play) of what a Real ward council should look like and let me tell you... It was definitely something else because I have never seen a ward council comparable to that one!

Wednesday: December 2nd, 2015
The Reading Zone Goons....
Today we had our DLC meeting and so it was basically the same thing as MLC but at a district level this time so nothing to crazy. After we had a baptismal interview for Sybil in Woodley and she is so golden! She actually got baptized on Saturday so we were super happy for her because she was being taught for months and she finally made it!

Thursday: December 3rd, 2015
Guess what, another meeting! Woohoo! We had district meeting today and it was a very powerful and spiritual one. We talked a lot about Christmas and the importance of it. I got to present as well for that and I recapped a little from a talk given by President James E. Faust in the December 2001 ensign. It's a great read if you really want to get in the spirt of Christmas at a more joyful level! After that we went and had some lessons and then we helped a member put up her Christmas tree.

Friday: December 4th, 2015
Today we had exchanges and so Elder Schulthies and I got to work together today and we had a service night we were going to with the Reading Sisters at a town home for old folks. So... Old people know how to get down! We served them a three course meal and let's just say... Before the food, they were getting pretty krunk on some sherry. I've never seen old people pound shots down so quickly... Oh man, it was insane. After the dinner and dessert, they had DJ funk master come in and start singing and doing his thing. He was also an older guy but man he could sing. Anyways, moral of the story is old people know how to party and we missionaries got to do some wonderful service for them and to see the smiles they had were very heartwarming and priceless. I really enjoyed myself! Also, they had these cool things called a Christmas cracker... America needs to adopt them! Look them up, they would be perfect to have in America for parties such as New Years or Christmas!

Saturday: December 5th, 2015
Service and Party Hats!
So today was a ton of planning and then we had a very cool experience with our lesson we had with Victor (investigator) and his family (members). So Jessie, his girlfriend wanted us to teach her entire family but because they only speak Portuguese and Spanish, we had some issues there... BUT! We resolved it! Elder Richins and I pulled out our Spanish brains from high school and did our best to read from the pamphlets in Spanish. So we taught the entire Restoration in Spanish and it was amazing! Jessie (she's been having a hard time with things and church) said the closing prayer and she began to cry during it and oh my goodness... Yes there was a language barrier but oh my... You could feel the Spirit working through her and it was such an experience to take home that night. A language barrier is very easy to break with the Spirit!

Sunday: December 6th, 2015
Fast and testimony meeting today at church was amazing because everyone was bearing their testimony about Christmas and it was so wonderful! Other than that, we had our usual Sunday night accounting and planning for Zone Training on Tuesday.

So today, we went and did some shopping and I was able to grab some new ties, a new shirt and we have the rest of the day to prepare for the week so it should be grand. We might shoot some hoops or something before FHE tonight with the Baker's!

Discover Why You
Remember December
Verse of the Week:
I've been studying Doctrine and Covenants this week and this is what I found and pondered over for multiple days and I also connected a scripture chain to it if you want to find one for yourself with it as well!

D&C 9:8
8 "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.!

I hope everyone continues to have a wonderful Christmas season and that you all manage to stay warm this winter! I love and miss you all! Talk to you soon!

-Elder Rivera

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!!!!

Hello everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal this year!!! We were able to have our own Thanksgiving over here due to a member, which was amazing! I can't imagine not celebrating "gorge my face with food until my stomach hurts" day. It still seems to be going by so fast these days... and the holidays aren't making it seem any slower! We are almost in 2016 which is very weird to say... what happened to 2012? Well, I hope everyone is prepping themselves for a wonderful Christmas and especially with the First Presidency Address this coming Sunday!

Thanksgiving in England!

Just want to give a shout out to my brother Statler today as he is no longer a teen tomorrow... HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROTHER!!! Hope Chicago continues to treat you well!

Tuesday: November 24th, 2015
Today was moves day so a lot of driving around and then we had a dinner appointment and a lesson with the Bakers to help them with their stuff.

Wednesday: November 25th, 2015
Today we decided that it would be very smart to clean out our area book because it looked super nasty... papers everywhere and they were super old so we fixed everything and made it look very neat and organized. I've realized how much I have become organized as the months have gone by...

"You Gon Eat That?" -Dad
Thursday: November 26th, 2015
Thanksgiving in England! Truly was a day for many thanks! We mapped out a lot of potentials on our maps.me app and were able to pinpoint a good finding spree for a couple of hours and wow... we were truly blessed. We had lunch at 12 so we decided to hit as many houses on the members road before 12 and there were so many people that were home and willing to listen! God truly blessed us with multiple miracles on this great day of Thanksgiving. After lunch we did even more contacting and we saw even more success! Then of course, we went and had our delicious English Thanksgiving dinner! It was so tasty... I remembered why this time of year is the best because not only do we get to gorge our faces with food and not be judged about it... but we also get to truly remember how
great that the Lord has been to us and how many times he has led us by the hand to where we need to be and where we need to continue to go. I've learned so much this holiday season and I can't wait to be able to see what this next month has in store for me and the people I am surrounded by. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
"Yes I am...!" -Elder Rivera

Friday: November 27th, 2015
We had so much planning to do today... weekly planning and transfer planning took up most of the day and we didn't even finish!

Saturday: November 28th, 2015
Finished up our planning today and then we had to go check and see if the set up for MLC would work at the request of the Assistants. After we noticed it wouldn't work... we quickly put all the stuff back and raced home to have a lesson with our baptismal date Michael and then we raced over to a members home for dinner. She bought us Chinese and lets start by saying that my chopstick skills have slacked... but hopefully I'll gather them back so I can eat Chinese food like a champ again!

Sunday: November 29th, 2015
Welcome, Welcome Sabbath Morning! We had a great day at church. Two of our investigators came to church so we were super happy about that and we got to teach the lesson during Gospel Principles! We of course had our Sunday night accounting as well and with the new program we have, it really makes accounting so much easier and quicker! I love it!

That's the basic run down for the week, we have MLC this Tuesday so looking forward to that to see what the Lord has in store for us to do next throughout the mission in order to continue to bring forth the great second harvest in this land!

Verse of the Week: Finished the Book of Mormon again so what better verse to use this week than the wonderful portion of Moroni's great promise to all!

Moroni 10:4-5
4 "And when ye shall receive these things (the Book of Mormon), I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart (1), with real intent (2), having faith in Christ (3), he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I hope we all prepare ourselves spiritually for this Christmas season and truly give back to the Lord for he was the greatest gift we could have ever received. Remember, not all great and wonderful things come out of a box, but rather... the greatest gifts are those that are shared with our loved ones and are physically felt in the heart. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Happy Holidays!!!

Rejoice and be merry, for this truly is the greatest time of the year for us all!

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Elder Rivera