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:
22 COPELAND HOUSE
RATHLIN ROAD
CRAWLEY
RH11 9GA

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

And So... The Adventure Comes To An End!

One last time with my Big friend Ben...
Well... this is it!

I can't believe that this is my last email as a full time missionary in the England London South Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so grateful for all the support I've been given throughout these past two years! I can't believe that this day has finally arrived. I would be lying if I told you my mission was easy, that it didn't come with challenges, and there weren't times where things were just straight up difficult. My mission is the most rewarding experience I have ever had and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

The Other Side...
There are a lot of mixed feelings on the idea of returning home next week. On one hand, I'm so excited to see family, friends, and to begin the next stage of life but... on the other, England has been my home for these past two years, the mission has been my life, and I have had so many sacred experiences in this land which have changed me. There is nothing greater than being able to say that the Lord truly is in this work.


The Super Eight...

Over these past two years, I've had the chance to serve alongside some of the best people and best missionaries I know and I have served closely with seven of them as my companions in 5 different areas in the South of London. So grateful am I for their examples, their fire, their passion and their love for the Savior and His work. They each have helped me recognize and magnify certain gifts and talents the Lord has given me to find success in the work but more importantly, how they would help me throughout my life. They have helped me find myself along the way. I couldn't thank them enough. 

I still have had the most tender feelings toward just how my mission played out. As a convert, I expected opportunities in being able to share my conversion experience with others to help them but I never knew the magnitude of just exactly would happen. The Lord has been good to me. Never did I know how much trust he would have in me with the very little I knew at the time... but over the course of serving 22 months, I have found just how much He truly was there to help all the way across this journey.
The Final MLC...
There really is no way I can expound on what has happened these last two years in only a short email but needless to say... these last two years have been the best two years for my life and I have come to know many great spiritual truths. I have made eternal friendships here. I have come to know that God lives. He is real... and He knows each of us perfectly. We are His children and He is our Father. He continues to guide us today by providing us with living prophets and apostles. They are imperfect mortal men called of God to complete a perfect and immortal work upon the earth. As God lives, I know the scriptures are true. I especially know with a surety that the Book of
Crawley Crew...
Mormon is true. As I have studied, pondered, and prayed about it, I have seen the power it has brought into my life. The Book of Mormon has changed my life and I know it can change the lives of millions who are willing to read and pray about it too. My mission has helped find a lot of these truths but the greatest is that we have a Savior. A perfect brother who was willing to sacrifice His life for ours. To allow men to shed His perfect, pure, and innocent blood was His mission for us. Above all things... I know that my Redeemer lives. He
Rain or Shine... we share the gospel!
can help us overcome the greatest challenges in our lives and as one of the weakest of the weak, I can testify that He lives for each of us. He loves us more than we can comprehend and if we are willing to lay aside every sin, we may come to know Him. I know these things to be true and I testify that they are and I leave my witness that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom established upon the earth once again to prepare us for the great and glorious return of our Savior and Redeemer, the very Son of God, even Jesus the Christ, amen.

As one adventure comes to end... there is only another one waiting to take its place.

There are no ends... only new beginnings.

These will be days never to be forgotten.

England London South Mission:
July 9th, 2015-May 10th, 2017

D&C 126:1-3
"Dear and well-beloved brother, [Elder Rivera], verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant [Elder Rivera], it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.
I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.
I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen."

I look forward to our reunion in the land of promise this Wednesday!:)

With all my love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Season of Miracles...

Dusky hospital visits provide for a view...

This week was full of amazing miracles! I'm super excited to share a few of them with you and then a few brief thoughts about what I've learned these past couple of days. I hope everyone is doing well and keeping on. It rained in London for the first time in like 4 weeks yesterday so... apparently England is in a drought... haha. Anyways, here is the week!

Thursday: April 20th, 2017
Had my last District leader exchange today with Elder Jensen! It was a good one to finish off on. We had some time to go try and locate some "Lost Sheep" people that Bishop asked us to try and locate but had no luck ion this attempt. One of the families though that we had on our list didn't live at the home buuuuut, the lady that now lived there(actually as a tenant to the family we were looking for) was interested in learning more and so Claire and her son Calem gave us a time to come back another day. It was super to see how even though the people we weren't looking for provided us with some fruit because we were faithful in finding some new people to teach.

Friday: April 21, 2017
A bit of a planning day because of weekly planning and interviews with President this weekend. In the evening though... we had received a referral to visit a lady who was apparently a member that wanted a blessing on her home because of some "strange" things that were happening in her home. We walked in with a member and examined the place and it literally looked fine... however, we sat down and proceeded to let her tell the story of what was going on and it was like the story changed 4 times before we finally decided to just give a blessing on the home and then get out of there before it got any stranger. On our way out we asked if she was a member of the church and it turned out she was a Methodist but she believed that only the Mormons could pray with enough faith to rid whatever was causing weird smells(most likely the green stuff) and weird noises happening. She was so scared to leave her house but there was literally nothing wrong with it. it was just a strange experience in general. I could say I have probably seen it all now... haha. As we exited she pulled £40 out and offered it to us for giving her a prayer on the home and we politely declined and tried to get out as soon as possible. Needless to say, it was a fun time. After as we walked home, we received a random call from Utah from a guy named Mark asking that we head into the St. Thomas Hospital to provide a blessing for his friend named Tyler who had come down with a severe fever. We traveled by and just made right before visiting times ended. Cool story to go with it, not that he has a crazy fever or anything but turns out he was from Mesa, Arizona and his wife was from Washington(Elder Walker my companion is from Washington) and so it was super coincidental(I think not...) but they were super grateful to have the blessing and the help in those hard times. That's why I love the priesthood... it's main purpose is to serve others and it's an amazing blessing to be able to use the priesthood of God to bless the lives of others whenever we need to do anything that is needed of us!

Saturday: April 22nd, 2017
We had our interview training today with all the missionaries while president and his wife were interviewing them. We had 5 stations so each of us leaders had the chance to do a 1 on 2 training and it just came together nicely. We talked about the importance of Ephesians 6:11-18 and the armor of God. I had the chance to talk about the Sword of the Spirit and how it correlates to the Word of God. The sword we use today is sharper than any sword and it is the Book of Mormon. Think of it this way, the Sword or the Word(without the S) is the most powerful offensive tool we have today and is the only offensive piece of the Armor of God. Everything else is made to defend us and protect us against the "wiles of the devil" but the Sword of the Spirit is our offensive weapon in the fight and cause for truth and righteousness. I love the Book of Mormon so much because it has helped me become a new person in Christ. I have truly looked to the book and as I have done so, I have looked to the Lord. Following all of our interviews(I had to wait one more day due to myself being a departing missionary and well... those take time. Anyways , I had my final interview with SIster Gubler and it was tender. We talked a lot about the future and how much it will benefit my life by applying everything I've learned. It always hurts when she cries talking about having to say goodbye to one of her "special sons" and it's like saying goodbye to one of her own kids. I am grateful for the friendship we have built together over the past two years and especially the nine months I had to work very closely with her and president. Couldn't have asked for any better mission president and wife. Truly a blessing to my life... and my mission.

Sunday: April 23rd, 2017
Well... today was a hard day. Stake conference was super good and they talked a lot about the importance of strong testimonies and the importance of nurturing it to the point where it is woven in our characters rather than just printed on us. Following conference, I had my departing interview with president and man... so much advice and so much to talk about. There were a lot of things he shared with me about things pertaining to the future regarding successful discipleship, marriage, family life, and school/work advice to. Just what I needed and there were some good insights and revelation that came forth from our discussion together. I am never going to forget the things he has taught me. I asked him a question I felt I needed some clarity on regarding why the Lord had called me so early to be a leader in my mission and why I was in leadership my entire mission and the only answer he had was that the Lord had to give me some specific positions that would provide experience, skills, enhance my skills and gifts, and provide further knowledge for times to come in the future. He shared how that is how his mission was for him and he has been able to look back and see exactly how to solve problems or how to do a specific task due to the experiences he gained on the mission. President and I are super similar and we talked about that for a few minutes and how he was like me at my age and it just brings me great hope knowing that if someone like him could be strong in the faith going through the same things(not all, but some) that I have, I know all things will work out because God works in patterns. It is up to us to find and notice the patterns in our lives and learn from them and I found a pattern in president and I have done my best to closely watch and respond to the promptings I was given and the time I had to learn working so closely with him. 

Monday: April 24th, 2017
We had a solid day of accounting as usual and then we headed to our bishop's home to go over some material regarding our area and the members and offered some help in checking on a few of them and also gathering information so we could work more effectively with part member families. It was a successful and super good time and dinner came out of it too(missionaries live for random DA's). We have made so much progress with our bishop though and are finding great ways to work with him to begin to turn the wheel of member-missionary relations and efforts. Super cool miracle tonight as we got home as well. Elder Walker and I were eating dinner and as we did so, we were calling some of the former investigators from a while back to see if we could meet with them again and there was no luck but then the phone randomly rang. It was an unsaved number and so I answered it and a man named Norman just called and as we asked what we could do for him, he just said I wanted to say hello. Random... but we asked if he had known missionaries before and he said yes and wanted to meet up again. We scheduled to see him this Thursday and it was just a tender miracle!!! Norman wouldn't have been able to be contacted unless he called us because we didn't have his number or any idea of him at all. We knelt down so fast and gave a prayer of gratitude for the miracle the Lord blessed us with!

Tuesday: April 25th, 2017
Well... I had the last exchange of my mission today with Elder De Kock who is the newest assistant to be called last transfer. We have built a pretty good friendship over our missions and it was nice to have a good close with a good friend. I was his first exchange of his mission back when I was a ZL in Southampton and he was a new missionary and now, 14 months later, he was my final exchange. Just a good way to close things off with exchanges and we saw some amazing miracles. We picked up 4 new friends throughout the day and also a family that we are all seeing this week. Titi(the mother) was super interested and never headed of the Book of Mormon before and so we shared a little bit about it with her on the side and then set a time to return to visit and she agreed! Then we asked if she knew anyone else that would want to know more and her son Joa just jumped out and said, "I want to learn! Please!" It was pretty funny and then her daughter as well was interested! So please keep them in your prayers! We will be seeing them Friday night! The others we met were just super solid and full of life! Andrews was one of them and he was the strongest Christian man I have ever met outside of the church. He was in the park by our house just pondering about personal things and also reading the Bible... couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to share more about the restored gospel than that. We did and he was interested to learn more about it as well because he knew a bit about the church and Joseph Smith but not enough to make a decision on what he thought about it so we offered to teach him more and so we will be seeing him as well next Monday which we are excited about! Good things happening and it's picking up little by little again!

Wednesday: April 26, 2017
Heading to the Borough market today which should be fun. Doing some final things and just relaxing! Looking forward to the rest of this week and then next week will be busy with all the meetings leading up to my final few days... crazy!!!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Jacob 3:2
"O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."

I loved this scripture this week because as clear as anything, I learned about the importance of having a good heart. If we have a good heart and good feelings in it, then because the heart is what pumps physical blood throughout our bodies, our spiritual heart must be good to. If it is, then good things "flow" like blood to every part of who you are. As we study the Book of Mormon, we allow good things to enter our heart(both physically and spiritual) and that allows virtue to flow to our minds, and if our minds are clean and virtuous, then we are able to feel of the Spirit(or his love) and when we feel His love, we are always wanting to do our best to be firm in our minds that we may continue to abide in His love. 

Scriptures(Book of Mormon)-->Heart(feelings)-->Mind(thoughts)-->Who you Are

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 124:17
"I have seen the work which [you] hath done, which I accept if [you] continue, and will crown [you] with blessings and great glory."

Quote of the Week:
"If you're not willing to die for it, you don't qualify for it." -Andrews(strong Christian man in the park)

Next week will be a special email... stay tuned!

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Love My Savior Because...

#PrinceofPeace

This week has been a good one... a lot of crazy thoughts flying through my head as I had my last Zone Conference in the mission field. We talked a lot about faith and president shared some powerful experiences about repentance from the time he served as a bishop. I've never seen him so emotional before and the Spirit just touched my heart. It's just weird... having this last conference meant it was the last time I would see some of the missionaries I've worked with for months! It was just a weird feeling to be sitting there knowing that and just trying to soak it all in. There were a lot of great insights that came to me through the Spirit and one of them was very profound to me. An impression came to my mind which said, "Remember that you know that I live... you won't convert everyone but as long as you convert yourself in the process of facing the world by defending My name, then you have been successful." I have tried to do that to the best of my ability these last two years. No better way to remind myself of that this Easter season as it came to a close.

Here's another one just for you Dad!
Among all the things that took place last week, I only feel impressed to shared a few things that have happened throughout the week. On Friday, we gathered the zone together for an Easter Finding activity that we put together and we invited people to write on white boards that had the question, "How do you find peace?" written on it. Thousands of people walked by throughout the three hours we were there contacting and it was just amazing to see the responses the people would put on the board. Were we fully teaching the gospel to them? Yes... by example and by word and deed. Teaching and sharing the gospel isn't always about giving someone a Book of Mormon or sitting down and teaching the Prophet's First Vision. It's more than that. It's simpler than that. All it takes it showing people a smile and inviting them to write down what makes them smile or bring peace to their lives. We had so much fun as missionaries in just sharing goodness to everyone around and we had some tender miracles. One is super sacred and it is probably the pinnacle moment of my mission and I couldn't have asked for it at any better time than in these final weeks. It is one that I would rather share in person because I couldn't even begin to try to explain it in just a few words through an email. It means more to me than that. I feel it would only be appropriate to share it in person. So, wait patiently for the story of Andrew to come at a later time.

The City...
We had some amazing miracles though this week. We had a friend named Francis that works at one of our visitor centers refer himself and we will be seeing him this week. President challenged me to
get one more person into the font and to bring them the blessings of the gospel before I finish up and this Thursday will be the beginning of that final last minute journey. A fourth quarter last 10 seconds kind of play. We also met someone on the tubes that was interested in learning more about the Mormon faith because he has heard so much about it and some of his friends are members. When we exchanged numbers, I noticed his phone light up and I looked at the caller ID and it said "Elders"!!!! What??? I didn't say anything at the moment but then I talked to Elder Walker about it and we were confused on whether he met with missionaries in the past or what the deal was there but my number was saved so it was a pretty amazing thing to see. We will be seeing them both on Thursday so if you want to keep Francis and Qbba in your prayers for May 6, that would be awesome!

The Best District Ever...!
Other than that, things are continuing to roll forth. We have our interviews with president and his wife coming up this weekend and I'm excited but also sad. This will be my final interview with President before our last night at the temple together with our departing group. There will be 7 of us heading home this transfer and it's a pretty diverse group. I'll be the only one heading back to America and then everyone else but 2 are heading to other countries. That has been one of my favorite things about the mission is the amount of diversity our mission has but then also the areas I've had the chance to serve in, especially London. It's a priceless opportunity to have and to cherish. I've learned more about different cultures and various languages than I thought I would coming to England.

Just a small portion of the week!

Well... I love you all! Hope you have another great week!

I love my Savior because... He is my best friend. He has pushed me to reach heights I never knew of and He has wrought a mighty change in my heart that has helped me become the new man I am today and that I've become over my mission.

Why do you love him?

Mesa and QC: Arizona Brothers
Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 2:1
"Blessed art thou [Elder Rivera], because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 115:4
"For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Quote of the Week:
"Repentance doesn't crash the party... it's a celebration of the party."

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Waters of Eternity...

So Elder Walker... you're telling me I can't go there?

Today marks a special day and milestone for me... three years ago today I embarked on the journey of a lifetime as I entered into promises with God through baptism by someone(my best friend Statler) holding the power and authority of God(or the Priesthood). I can't believe how much has changed over these past three years. I don't know where to really begin to explain it all. Most of you will have to just hear or see it all when I return home but all I can say is that I have never looked back. I haven't had any reason to. It has been by far... the greatest decision I have ever made thus far in my life.

Three years ago I never expected to be where and who I am today. I've shared recently a little bit about that but it is true. I never expected to be on a mission(let alone finishing my mission in a few weeks) and also knowing the things I know now. It truly has been a promising journey that I hope some if not all, will embark on the same journey I did. I look back and I am just so grateful to the friends I had, the examples they were to me and for the graceful hand of God placing them and their families in my life that helped me get to this point of my life. My mission has taught me three things that I've kind of made my "life motto" and I love to remind myself about it often and it is, "Remember who you are. Remember why you're here. Remember what it took to get here." So much has been put into these past three years. I always used to think that life couldn't have gotten any better but I was wrong. My mission has truly showed me a different view of everything and I'm beginning to see things as God sees them. Not perfect all the time but it's a learning process for sure. Life isn't easy though. Everyone must eventually walk the shores of life before they begin to enter into and appreciate the waters of eternity.

As I reflect upon what has happened since April 12, 2014, all I can think about is what has happened to myself both physically and spiritually. I feel like a new person. I have truly come to know my God and my Savior Jesus Christ. How? It is purely because of the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. When the prophet of God gets up and stands before the world in his physical weakness and bears his testimony with great spiritual strength on "The Power of the Book of Mormon", I can only add my testimony to his that I know what he says is true. I have seen how the Book of Mormon truly does have an effect on both the physical and the spiritual matters of our every day lives. My witness of the Book of Mormon hasn't come from a lightning strike or a vision from heaven, but rather it has come over time as I have read it, pondered over it, and lived by its teaching(along with praying about it). I have seen with my own two eyes what the Book of Mormon can do to people as they read it with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ. It changes you. It changes the way you live your life.

You know you've been out a long time when you come
with ideas like this for accounting.
I'm my own witness of what the Book of Mormon does to the reader. I can look at myself in the mirror and see my spiritual testimony in the physical. I think about what I knew coming into my mission and it is nowhere near where I am now. It is a tender mercy to see the "seed" grow as I have nourished it.(Alma 32) The Holy Ghost truly does help us to remember all things(John 14:26) and can bring all things to remembrance that we once knew. Hence, I believe firmly that this life is all about remembering. We all knew these things to be true long ago and we defended them and were willing to do the same on earth. This life... is all meant to help you travel along the journey until you come to the destination of remembering what you once knew so you never forget it again. I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon and for living prophets and apostles. I am also very grateful for a
merciful God who loves me enough to give me challenges that are sometimes bigger than me, but He always provides a way for me to accomplish whatever He puts in my path. My life has been full of adversity and I love it because I thrive in the opposition. It's who I was before this life and it's who I always will be. Above all, I am grateful for my Savior. He is my Champion who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and went through what He did so I don't have to. It has been a glorious three years so far and I know there are so many more blessings in store to come throughout the rest of my life because of the decision I made to be baptized and join the Lord's only true and living church upon the earth today. There's no going back and I know where and who I stand with, for He will always go before me and He will be on my right hand and on my left with His Spirit in my heart and His angels round about me to bear me up.

This is only a portion of what has truly happened and it will take a lifetime to continue to share what exactly has happened to me with those I love most and those I keep close. I love you all and I just wanted to thank you for everything so far! There's only so much that words on a text can say but I can't wait to express my gratitude to you soon! Have another great week!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
The Testimony of Three Witnesses:
"We know of a surety that the work is true" "We beheld and bear record that these things are true." "We should bear record of it." "We bear testimony of these things."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 110:9
"Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house."

Quote of the Week:
Remember who you are.
Remember why you're here.
Remember what it took to get here.

General Conference Quote of the Week:
The Beauty of Holiness
"In strength and honor, we forsake the ways of the world and keep our covenants, that we may be “clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness."

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Last Melon...

March 2017 Eastern Zone Leadership Training

Good morning everyone!

Well... another transfer has come to a close and we have a shorter transfer coming up now. We have a 5 week transfer rather than the usual 6 week so it'll go by super quick but super excited for it! As you can probably tell by my subject line... as Ice Age would call it, this is my "last melon" or my last transfer in England! Elder Green headed out to train a new missionary coming in and I'm now training a new zone leader! Elder Walker is my new companion and he has a lot of potential to be a great leader in the mission and president gave me a special assignment to help him out and give him some good pointers and tips on leadership because he may soon walk the same roads I did but we shall see. When I was an assistant in Crawley, he was being trained upstairs with Elder Chrimes and so go back a bit and it's just been fun these last few hours as companions. Good memories and just good vibes of joy and hard work coming out of him.

I had a great experience this week with Conference and all and to be fair, wasn't the best week for our
zone and it was humbling. Every great warrior needs to get bruised or wounded every once in a while to remind him that he is not immortal... yet. So that's what happened to us this week. I had a humbling moment with the Lord on my knees getting ready for this last transfer and got some great direction and guidance and because we baptized the most out of the mission, we had the chance to attend a well needed and perfectly timed temple session. I couldn't have asked for anything better following an amazing General Conference, a sleepover St president's home, and then some heartfelt prayers seeking guidance on how I can make this the best transfer yet. There's a lot of stuff that I have to worry about this transfer and the pressure is really on. With My Plan, to trainings, to leading, to meetings... there is just so much that will happen this transfer and it's going to make things fly but there are good things to look forward to.

Baptismal Dinner Round #7

How I've seen it here last few days is after 21 months of service to God and to His children in England, I have 5 weeks to truly prove to myself more than anyone who I truly have become. An impression came the other night as I was praying and it said, "This last transfer will define who you are, who you have become, and what your mission really did to and for you and you'll see for yourself what you're truly made of and capable of." It was humbling and I immediately wrote down the impression when it came as I laid down in bed. Normally I wouldn't do that because I trust my mind and remember a lot of things but... Elder Rasband said to follow the first impression so I got straight up and jotted it down before it went away and I'm grateful I did because more revelation came to me in the temple regarding the impression.

I just wanted to share these small experiences this week. I'm so grateful for prophets and apostles that receive guidance and direction for us and then provide exactly what we need to hear every single April and October when we get to listen to them! Just like our beloved prophet explained... there is nothing greater that you can do each day than read from the Book of Mormon. The greatness of the evidence of these last days is found within its pages and the feelings that come to you through the power of the Holy Ghost. I love the Book of Mormon and I'm grateful for the chances I've had to deeply study and ponder its teaching over my mission and it has helped establish a great foundation for the rest of my life and I know it can do the same for all those who sincerely pick it up and read from it too.
Looked like Harry Potter so thought I'd send a pic

Love you all! Have a great week!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
With finishing the Book of Mormon again, I share the same everlasting promising scripture from Moroni!

Moroni 10:3-5
3 "Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, 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, with real intent, having faith in Christ, 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."

Doctrine and Covenants
D&C and 103:36
"All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith."

The Last Companion...
Quote of the Week:
"The absence of evidence isn't the evidence of absence."

Conference Quote of the Week:
"God's greatest reward goes to those who have no expectation of reward."

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Around the World in 180 Minutes..!

My favorite things at my favorite location...
Good morning everyone!

Another good week! Had the chance to have my finally Skype among celebrating English Mother's Day! Just another good week...!

Thursday: March 23rd, 2017
Had exchanges today and it was just a lot of preparation for the cultural event. We had to get some balloons, flags, food, and some decorations for the event and it was just a pain to put it all together with the amount of time we had!

Friday: March 24th, 2017
Today was the cultural festival and it was AWESOME!!! We got to wear our African suits that we never thought we'd be able to wear and it was just a lot of fun! We had a good turn out and some great performances from the congregations that prepared. There was a Spanish band from the Spanish Ward that played as well and they were super good!!! The life of the event for sure haha. It was nice to finally have the end of the stress and the crazy organization and preparation! But, well worth it and we hope to do another one soon!

African Suit Brothers

Saturday: March 25th, 2017
We had the baptism of Joe today and it was just amazing! We made a fruit salad for him(a first...) and then we spent some time doing some final preparations for it all throughout the day! We had 5 baptisms in the zone today and it was just a good weekend for the zone! Joe was super nervous all day and then when he was finally baptized, he came out and he just said I feel so much peace and just feel a lot more calm than before. It's a very real change he experienced and you could see it in his eyes. Our president even said it... he's just not the same person... so much light in his eyes!

African Suit Squad
Sunday: March 26th, 2017
Joe was confirmed today! He sat down after he was confirmed and just let out briefly a sigh and just said... "whoa..." We were super stoked for him and he has just been a light to so many people! He also bore his testimony in elders quorum and it was super powerful! It's amazing to see the progress and changes that have been made in his life over these past 4 weeks as I've been here. Just so amazing... no better feeling than seeing and feeling the Spirit change the lives of others and in turn... improving your own personal testimony!

Monday: March 27th, 2017
Good day of accounting today and then we did some service for our bishop. We did painting for his home and then we were smothered with delicious food from his wife. That was about all we did today! Service projects are fun and they don't come around enough!

"Many of you find it a privilege to be with me, but it's the other way around...
I find it as my privilege  to stand among so many of you...
noble and great spirits."-President

Tuesday: March 28th, 2017
20th MLC today... crazy. We covered a lot of things about the upcoming transfer with studying and also with what we could do to move a tad bit more forward as a mission! We've had 24 baptisms this past month which is the highest we've had since January of 2016..!

Wednesday: March 29th, 2017
Good day of relaxation and buying some new clothes and a suit! Good stuff!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Moroni 7:5
"For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 93:24
"And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come."

#DreamTeam

Quote of the Week:
"Rise up and measure up to the fullest stature of the royal divinity within you."

"Everyone must be ready and prepared to go through their own Abrahamic test when it comes upon them without warning."

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#RiseUp

Good morning everyone!!! 
The Sacred Record...

Another good week but it has definitely flown by! Elder Green has been pretty sick this week so it was a bit of a rougher weekend with being in the flat but it allowed some time to ponder, clean the flat, and then just study the scriptures. Nearly finished with the Book of Mormon again which will be my 10th time on my mission. Telling you... there is something about the number 10 with me haha. Just always seems to come around and stick around! Guess I won't be getting rid of my favorite number anytime soon and who knows... hopefully God will bless me with the opportunity to wear it upon my back once again. But things are going super well... has a crazy time with exchanges this week and also trying to accomplish everything for stake correlation with the Stake President and our Mission President tonight and it has just been ruthless! It's been 10 months since I've done Stake Correlation and it has beaten me up this time around but I think I've gotten the hang of it again with the help of my companion! Overall... things are going super well!!! We have an exciting week happening in the zone this week with 6 of our friends entering the waters of baptism throughout the zone and our friend Joe will be one of them! We are super excited for him and it'll just be a blast to see another brother join the fold!

Friday: March 17th, 2017
Never thought that Elder Tunnicliffe and I would have the chance to be companions again but we had the chance at least for the day to do so! It was so good to be able to catch up with a former companion and also talk about the things we want to do with our time winding down. We spent 6 months as companions and it was just a good time. I learned a lot of things from him and our friendship has grown a ton over the time we served together but even now as we are serving around each other once again. We had the opportunity to sit down on a bench and discuss some things and then we had a pretty sacred moment together that meant the world to both of us but when it was done... I was able to say that if that was the only thing that was accomplished during the whole exchange... it would have been worth every last second. We are looking forward to hanging out and doing things soon following the mission when he comes to America or I fly back over to visit England and the mission! Should be a good time. Actually... it will be a good time:)

Saturday: March 18th, 2017
Finished up our exchanges and then we began the Stake Correlation work and later we had some teach with some people we were planning on seeing and it was a good night! We found some solid potentials and then before we got off the bus as we headed to our Ward Mission Leader's home for correlation, Elder Green and I were talking about the scriptures together and a man tapped my arm as he was leaving and said to us, "God bless boys." It was just a key moment for me to see the importance of always being an example and a light to others. Even if you're not talking to them... people still hear what you say and the things you do! That's a good point to make and I can't remember who said it but they said to "always share the gospel, and occasionally use words." So important and all of us can do it... its simple! Just be an example in that you do and say and make sure you are a walking billboard for Jesus Christ in every situation or location you find yourself in!

Sunday: March 19th, 2017
Had church today and then we were stuck in the flat due to my companion feeling super ill! Must've caught a late flu or something but he has been pretty ill these last couple of days and just out of commission! I had the chance to do a lot of studying and I was going through the book of 3 Nephi and a lot of great insights came to me as I did so and I'd like to share a small one with you! Christ was teaching the people of the land about the sacrament and the importance of partaking of it(for us we know the importance of a weekly partaking). As He explains what the bread and wine(or water) represent, he then continues to bestow promises to those that partake of the sacrament in which we are promised to ALWAYS have the Spirit to be with us. This is a promise I have seen in my life become a great reality to me and it has helped me in every hard situation. One other thing he mentions though that I can testify of is that "whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."(3 Nephi 18:20) I've seen great answers come from following this pattern, although they don't always come immediately... patience and persistence always pay off!

Monday: March 20th, 2017
Today we had accounting and then later in the evening we had another round of exchanges with the Peckham elders. Elder Thomas and I got to work together again and it was a lot of fun. We've been around each other our entire mission so it's been good to build a friendship with him and have some good chats and trips down memory lane from how far we have come over these last 20 months in England. We had a few teaches together and they went super well and Joe passed his interview tonight and it super stoked and excited for this coming Saturday!!! It's been amazing to see the growth that he's has over these past 3 weeks of teaching him and just seeing how sincere he is and those that are sincere receive answers as guidance from God and that is just what's happened to him! Now he's ready to enter the waters and begin the next part of his journey with the Holy Ghost as his constant companion! There's no joy greater than being able to see people make the same journey you once made and receiving the same blessings that you've seen come to life since making that big decision of following the Savior into the waters and accepting His help in all things. Nothing greater...

Tuesday: March 21st, 2017
Well... today my mind was running 102 miles an hour as I scrambled to get everything done for stake correlation(elder green was still down for the count) and it finally got done(sort of) haha. Just need a few small points but the major important details have been accomplished and it is a great thing to be able to serve with the Stake President's again and be able to see things come to life on a Stake level rather than just a mission level as I saw things as an assistant. It's amazing to see the growth of the mission but also the missionaries each week but the real results are seen after the transfers go by. Nothing to complain about... things are just going super well right now!

Wednesday: March 22nd, 2017
Well... I got smacked with my flight itinerary today and it blew my mind to receive it... can't believe it. If the idea of home wasn't already real... well today just sealed that deal! I'll be flying out of London at 2:40pm on the 10th of May and arriving back home at 5:40pm. Crazy! It's all become real now and I know these next 7 weeks are going to be the best 7 weeks ever. Excited to see you all and catch up with all of the things that have happened to us all over these past 2 years.

Fly On...
Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Mormon 7: 8-10
"8 Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record(Book of Mormon) but also in the record(Bible) which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record(Book of Mormon) shall come from the Gentiles unto you.
9 For behold, this(Book of Mormon) is written for the intent that ye may believe that(Bible); and if ye believe that(Bible) ye will believe this(Book of Mormon) also; and if ye believe this(Book of Mormon) ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.
10 And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 88:119
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

Quote of the Week:
"Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions."

Have a great week! Talk to you all soon!!!

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Holy Ghost... Your Heavenly Guide... To Your Eternal Home!

Brothers in Arms
Good morning everyone!

We've had another good week. This week has been one for the journal... there were a lot of things that I learned this week! Once again, I was reminded about the importance of maintaining and seeking for the fulness of my divine relationship with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.... buuuut more intensely this week, I learned how important it is to have a close relationship with the Holy Ghost. God can give us anything but of all the things that God could give you, He promises you that His Spirit can always be with you as you partake of the partake of the Sacrament weekly and renew your baptismal covenant. He could give you ALL THINGS... ANYTHING... the giver of all things... but he chooses to give us the Spirit. Yearn for, pray for, and seek for the companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life and take advantage of this ultimate gift that has been given to you by your loving Heavenly Father. I've received some pretty good revelation for myself recently with the last few weeks of my mission coming up but some it has have been aimed to the portion of doing 'My Plan'. It's amazing to see how God's timing for a lot of things just comes together when the timeline is beginning to dwindle on your end. Gladly, God has given me exactly what I've needed to continue to push through adversity and find great success and joy in this great work. There is so much happening right now for the mission and its great to see the results of things we have once longed to see, finally come to pass. Something that came to my mind a long time ago and I finally found the sticky note with the quote on it and what it says is this: "What happens in the moment won't matter much to others compared to what you do after the moment has already passed by... and what kind of legacy will be left behind as you part ways to head into the journey which will be your greatest and finest hour."

Ben...

This week I feel like changing it up again and just giving some of my thoughts that have been on my mind recently and a little bit more details on exactly what has happened to me. As I approach my last 7 weeks in England... I've had some major pondering moments these last couple of days to see exactly what has happened to me here. I've carefully examined where I've been, where I am, and where I want to be and God has kindly been instructing me every step of the way. I look into the mirror and I see someone so different than what they were 20 months ago. When I chose to drop everything and serve God for two years, I didn't quite know what I was getting myself(like everyone haha) into but I am so glad I made this choice. It has helped me find myself among the crazy world of today. God has changed my nature... sometimes I look at myself and can't recognize myself because so much has happened inside of me. Who knew that it was going to take God sending me to England in order for me to finally let Him break through to me. I had an experience when I was at college the first time around where I had everything I ever wanted in my young life(or I thought I did) and when all was going as well as could be... I began to forget where my blessings came from(sounds like the Nephites after they prospered and forgot their God too). When I finally forgot to give God the thanks He was waiting patiently for me to give and when I didn't give it... I was stripped of everything(like the Nephites who prospered and forgot and were then put in a position where they then had to pay the consequences through affliction and trials). In the hardest moment when I finally came to the point of remembering what God had done for me in my life preparing me and leading me along the way to find the Gospel myself through my best friends, I finally came to the realization and heard it as if it were a voice in my heart saying, "Look... you've had it your way and now we are going to do things my way." In that moment I knew... that is when it all began to become real to me. That is when my little seed of a testimony began to sprout into a tree. I knew in that moment that I needed to drop everything, give it all away and serve my God for two years.

London's coming for you!
Now... this chapter has almost come to an end. So quickly has this time flown by. I remember laughing and telling myself that two years was going to feel like eternity itself and now... the doors I once left behind are quickly approaching into my view again. But it's different this time. Although some of the things that are behind those doors haven't changed much, the one thing that has changed is the person opening those doors. I look back at my own baptism on April 12, 2014(nearly 3 years ago next month)  and I look at where I am and who I am now and all I can say to myself is that one must first walk the shores of life before they begin to appreciate the waters of eternity. Over these past 20 months I have come to know things that I yearned for my entire life. I have progressively found what it means to truly find joy in this journey, finding who you truly are, but more importantly and above all other things in this world... I have found a personal relationship with my Father in heaven, the Holy Ghost, and my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. This statement isn't something I take lightly... this is something I know and I'll defend His name to the end because of what He has done for me throughout my life. He has pulled me through the hardest of times and He has given my challenges to prove myself to Him. To prove my loyalty to Him to see if I truly am willing to give everything to Him. One thing I hope you all recognize in me when I return is that nothing will ever come between me and my love for my God and His Christ. They are first and always will be first to me. Hopefully you can cope with that!:) I have just come to know them more than ever before... I may not know them perfectly yet but I know enough about them to know that if one is to find what I and hundreds of other missionaries in this mission have found... it will begin with a true and sincere study of the Book of Mormon and through heartfelt sincere prayer to know whether this is all true. Like Moroni, I challenge you... read it, pray about it, and trust me... you will find everything you have ever looked for in your life whether you are young or old or somewhere in between. You will find what you are looking for.


This is only the beginning of the experiences I have had thus far and I can't wait to share them with you all in a very short amount of time. This gospel is just amazing and it has brought me the greatest happiness that you could ask for and I know you can find this for yourself too!

If you yourself are struggling to feel God's love, God's hand in your life, or if you feel like you have no direction, try these simple steps to receiving the Spirit more in your daily life:
Daily communion through heartfelt and sincere prayer
Feasting daily in the scriptures
Daily striving for an increased obedience and perfection in our lives
Acknowledge His divinity daily
Daily selfless service to another
Be sure to not take the gift of the Holy Ghost for granted and for those who have not yet received it... yearn for it and seek for it until you finally receive it in its fulness through the baptism of water and of the spirit by one holding God's authority to bestow upon you a remission of your sins and the ability to receive this great gift that God grants us as we follow Him so we may find our way back to our eternal home.



Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Helaman 16:4
"For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come-"

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 84:88
"And whoso receive the you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up."

Quote of the Week:
"Continue to rise to the stature of the divinity within you..."

Can't wait to see you al!:)

#ELSM

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Challenges Bring Out the Best in Us...


True happiness is found based upon the basic
principles of righteous living.
Hello everyone!

This has been ne of the best weeks but also one of the hardest weeks of my life. God taught me some valuable lessons this week that really helped me learn what it means to fail every once in a while and respond the way he would want me to. I've truly learned what it means to rely on the Lord in a more perfect way. He has a perfect plan but sometimes it just takes some trust and understanding for some of the things we want to come pass. All I know is God has a perfect plan for all of us but we need to be willing to follow the path He has already laid out for us to walk on, even if it means sometimes we bump into some pretty big barricades along the way and we must shoulder on through them until we make it to the other side. God is good!

Thursday: March 2nd, 2017
We had our trainings and interviews today with President and they went super well! It was so good to be back at their home for their day(as we did interviews there instead of in London) which was super nice! They are some of the best people that I know and I love them dearly. So much has been given to me by them and I have learned so much from my mission mom and dad! Truly a blessing and I'm grateful that God matched us together for these past 2 years to serve His children in England together. I had the chance to train all of our zone on planning today and it really helped me learn a lot about focusing on planning with priority and with a firm mind on what you want to accomplish which is something I am excited to use when I get back home soon! 9 weeks... I can't even believe it... I have come to know so much over my mission. I can't share the smallest part in which I feel towards my mission and all that has happened to me both physically and spiritually in the land of England for these past 20 months. I know my God... and I more intimately know my Savior. He is everything to me. I am so blessed to have the testimony that I have and the joy that it brings me to hold and share with others. I can't wait to share it with all of you in a more intimate way when I get home.

Friday: March 3rd, 2017
We had DLC today and we made plans for a lot of fun things that us as the zone leadership want to implement into the transfer with the last 3 and half weeks we have together before some of us move onto the next stage of our missions and some go home. Elder Green and I had some good chats today because we were both stressing over a bit of life. Seems this happens a lot but I was grateful to share some good insights and ideas with Elder Green as we both contemplated things for the near future.

Saturday: March 4th, 2017
The Shard (tallest building in London)
We had a pretty sweet miracle today with one of our friends Serge... We had a bit of a scuffle with his wife today cause she wasn't all about that missionary life but he has a strong testimony of what has happened to him as he has been meeting with us and he was just super sorry but then we taught him and got him on date for the 25th of March! We are super excited!

Sunday: March 5th, 2017
A day to remember... not only did we have an awesome Special Stake conference with Elder Ballard over digital feed from Salt Lake but then I learned a hard lesson from God today but felt so much of his love and the Spirit super strongly as I asked Elder Tunnicliffe to give me a blessing after being prompted to do so. It was a well needed experience in such a significant moment. For a moment, my future blurred but then almost instantly as I started to involve God in my plans again, it started to make sense and become clear to me. God gives us challenges to help us to become the person He really intends us to become. I've had so much success in my life and especially in my mission and for once I needed to just experience failure to be grateful for that success! God always has bigger and better thoughts and ideas than we do!

Monday: March 6th, 2017
Really good day of accounting again! The mission is continuing to move upward and onward and we are breaking the trend of "no one baptizes in England!" It is a total lie! These people are so prepared and so much is happening right now! The Second Harvest is truly upon us! Tonight we headed back to Crawley(my former area) and it was just nice to be back. Weird because it has only been 2 weeks since I was released and moved into London but it was so good!

Tuesday: March 7th, 2017
Today was super fun!!! Elder Wright and I got to work again together and it was just super fun! We were companions so there was a lot to just rejoice in and talk about and it was just a super good day together! We found a few people and then we made door hangars out of Haribo packages(gummy candy) and Mormon.org cards and rubber bands and it was so much fun! We made 22 of them and then dropped 20 of them off to homes and cleared the route we picked in 7 minutes as we sprinted around! We just laughed and had a blast haha! The cards said, "Our message is sweeter than these Haribo!" We had some tender moments as companions but what I love is when you finally separate you begin to really appreciate those moments together and miss them more than ever. Elder Cloward, Elder Wright, and I had a group hug at the end and we just reminisced for a second on our companionship and we all just wanted to cry like little boys again after talking for a bit on how amazing our time was together and how we took it granted. We said we'll save the tears for May haha. They are awesome elders and I love them a ton!

England has been good to me...

Wednesday: March 8th, 2017
Today is good! Had to apply for more schooling for UVU which should be fun and turns out... there is an open basketball tryout on September 16 which means hmm... who knows what God's next plan is for me! Maybe this is what needed to happen the whole time. We'll just have to wait and see what happens!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Alma 50:20
"Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land,"

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 76:61
"Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet."

God gives his toughest challenges to his strongest warriors... and true joy is found in the smallest victories.

Love,
-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemonade, Make Lemons. Then Life Will Be Like..What?

#DreamTeam
Good morning everyone! 

First full week in London has turned out to be a GREAT ONE! We have had some awesome miracles happen and we also had some mission meetings where we have seen ust how far the work has progressed and moved forward within the past year! It is such a privilege to be serving in London as a missionary(as many don't get the chance to) and  there is so much to do here and so many people to teach! We have a lot of potentials that could lead to a surplus of opportunities to teach people the message of the Restoration and help them make it to the waters of baptism. So much to look forward to and now that my companion and I have created a "London Bucket List" for the next 6 weeks(as that will probably be the only allotted time we'd be given together(so we think)(he hasn't trained yet and I only have 11 weeks left and president wanted me to train a new leader for my last transfer) buuuuuut we shall see exactly what happens when it happens. We'd both loved to stay together because we get on pretty well and we just have a great vision for our area and the rest of the zone. #London

Thursday: February 23rd, 2017
Finally settled in and got everything that I needed unpacked... something nice about our flat is we have a gym downstairs that has all the gym equipment you need to build some good muscle and so we all agreed we'd go pretty hard in the mornings to get some muscle and protein power going among us all. Maybe I'll actually gain some weight for once and break my skinny streak... Elder Green and I have jumped right into everything together. We've had the chance to work a lot together when I was an assistant and so we have had some good times on exchanges but now that we are companions... so much better! We just have a huge respect for each other and we learn a lot each day about ourselves
and about the other. I came into London with the mindset of trying to do things that have never before been done before so we can just boost the zone and the areas more than ever. We had a correlation tonight with the sisters and we ended up creating an event that we felt inspired to do and luckily... it
was on the only day that there wasn't another stake event going on. So March 24th, we plan one bringing all the members, missionaries, friends, and others on the street to join us for an "All Around the World in 180 Minutes" event. We are planning on inviting everyone to bring food from their diverse cultures and then we are hoping to get everyone involved with different cultures and then to cap it all off... bring culture and faith together and share more about how we must all be one as a people. Hopefully it all comes together the way we envision it to be cause at the end, we'd all watch Meet the Mormons together to show just how diverse our own church is and it doesn't matter what culture you are from or who you are... you can blend with the church in whatever location you are in. Should be a blast and it'll be fun to put together with all the flags and decorations and such!

Friday: February 24th, 2017
We had to some planning for the baptism today and prepare the font and programs so we didn't have to worry about doing it all last minute. We took a good chunk of time to get it all done because baptisms are a special day for those are ready to receive it! That was a lot of our day and then more transfer planning.

Saturday: February 25th, 2017
Baptism of Michael
BAPTISM!!! So Michael was baptized today. We had a pretty stressful day of trying to get everything planned out for the activity on the 24th but then also trying to get a key to turn the font on...which was a total nightmare... but we finally grabbed one from the Bishop of the Spanish ward in Kennington(they meet at the same building as us so it was perfect) Stressful because we couldn't come up with any ideas today(the ones I mentioned above) but then here is where the fulness of the idea came out! My companion and I went out to visit some people and invite them to the baptism and as we did, we kept talking about ideas of what we could do that would use bring a good amount of fruit but we were stumped... so I felt inclined to ask someone that was standing next to us as we waited for our friend to come to the door and we just asked him what he would want to see if he came to an event held by our church. A quick response came back about, "A film about Christ or something about your church." Well... duh I though. What better film that teaches about Christ in a very nice and subtle way for those not a part of the church and also talks about the church... well hey, Meet the Mormons was perfect... God works in mysterious ways to give you the ideas you needed haha. The baptism of Michael was AMAZING. We had a good turnout after being afraid that no one would be able to make it due to the announcement not being published til after his interview was passed which was on Monday(normally announced on Sunday to the Ward) but he was so excited and just full of joy all night. He ended up bearing His testimony at his baptism and he shared a poem at the end that made everyone in the room drop their jaw. He said:

God is everywhere
Where am I
God's sees all
I see nothing
God knows all
But I know nothing
God is all
I am nothing
But I am a child of God
I have everything...

It was so powerful coming from him right after his baptism and all of us missionaries just looked around at each other with amazement at such a statement that he said came to him one evening when he was pondering after reading the Book of Mormon. This gospel changes people... I have seen it change peoples lives but more importantly and more intimately... I have seen and felt it change my own life. I have seen what this gospel can do for someone as they learn it, live it, and begin to love it. It changes everything about you... it has changed the way I look at life, challenges, heartbreak and heart ache. When you're down... you can always look up and get up. When you feel that life gets to hard to stand(and it will) kneel before your Father. There is no such thing as a bad day... it only depends on what perspective you are looking at with. It's like the cup of water... it's either half empty... or half full. Same thing with life... we are either looking at life with this "half empty" view or we look at it with a "half full" vision wondering what is next to come to take us to the next adventure. 

S.M.I.L.E
God has taken me on a journey in my life... He gives His toughest battles to His strongest soldiers and I have had moments of sadness, trials, and heartbreak... but that led me to truly understand and find joy, freedom, and myself among the crowd.

D&C 6:14-15
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth."

I have learned for myself in a very powerful and sacred way that who we are, what we are, and who we become is based upon timing and patience and that through it all, God is eager to help us achieve our goals by pushing us to our limits until we finally reach destinations that we once thought were only distant dreams.

Sunday: February 26th, 2017
The Cutty Sark
I've said this before but it is still true... confirmation Sunday's are some of the best in the mission. Michael was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the gift of the Holy Ghost today! What a journey. I wish I could've seen the full progress of his journey to baptism and confirmation but 1 week was all the time I was allotted to be a part of among this part of his journey. I had an experience tonight that really touched my heart. We had just finished having a super good correlation with the sisters again about transfer planning, interview planning, and the stake event and as we closed I had the chance to offer up the prayer. I only got out the words... "Our Father in Heaven" and I just had a strong feeling of love and gratitude towards my Heavenly Father and I feel it now as I'm writing this up now. So much has been given to me in my life. My Heavenly Father has blessed me so much.. He has given me a wonderful family, great friends, and more importantly, he has given me a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and the reality of His living Son, and the opportunity to learn for myself what it truly means to be YOU. God helped shape my life from the beginning and it is amazing to look back and see just how the puzzle pieces have come together. Another is the pieces that are now coming together. There came a point in my life on November 16, 2014 where God told me as if I heard His voice... "You've had it your way. Now we will do it my way." I have learned what it means to give your will to God. I have so much to be grateful for but one of the greatest things to be grateful for is my knowledge of a loving Father in heaven who pushes us to become better every day. The rising of the sun is a symbol that God has given us another chance to become better than the person we were yesterday and a foresight on who we can become tomorrow. We just need to trust Him and rely on Him and when we do... we'll be amazed at what can happen in every given moment of our life!

#RoundThreeOfFiveGuysInLONDON
Monday: February 27th, 2017
What a day! We had a great weekend with the baptism and confirmation but we sadly didn't hit the mission vision in our area which was a shame but no worries... cause we went out and got the job done in a few hours today! We had accounting this morning and then we had to head to the dentist for Elder Green cause he kept procrastinating his visit but then Sister Gubler told him he couldn't have food at interviews unless he went to the dentist. So we did and wow... miracles come from listening to the mission president's wife. We found two new friends to teach along the way back home and then in the evening we picked up two baptismal dates with our friends Joe and Kirk. We also decided that as a four man flat that we would have family home evening every Monday(our companionship study is combined basically) but we would BYBI or "Bring Your Best Insight" from your studies and we would see who could bring the best doctrinal bomb from their weekly studies. It was a lot of fun for the first time. It's interesting to be in a four man flat. I've had a two man flat, three man flat, and now a four man flat. It's a lot of fun but we keep it well under control! Reminds me of the college dorms again but in a more mature manner haha.

Tuesday: February 28th, 2017
We had MLC today which tagged my 20th one on my mission... (that's a lot for a missionary) I've been a part of every MLC of my mission except for one and today it was amazing to see how far our mission has come. We did a lot of comparisons for what happened throughout the year of 2016 and what has occurred so far in 2017 and we have throttled so many records this year already! Our averages are up, numbers are up, and success is up. Just a lot of good things happening all around in the ELSM. Pretty powerful experience today as we listened to "Let Us All Press On" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Just had a strong spiritual experience throughout the whole song and it just inspired all of us again as missionaries to continue to press on and continue to get more and give more for the Lord. Then president shared some insights on "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" which was amazing to think that we are those lower lights that much help the boats(or people) safely reach the shore amidst the storms(waves and winds) of life. We then had our usual Tuesday night activity in which we had some friends show up and I got to meet a couple of them that we have been working with and trying to get more involved with. Lot of fun with pizza and games night and it is just a great environment to get people comfortable with missionaries(cause we are normal people) and also in an environment that takes them out of the world for a bit.


Wednesday: March 1st, 2017
Found Myself at the O2!
How can it be March already... time is just flying... got an email a few weeks back saying Happy Feb and now all of a sudden... we are saying Happy March..! What is time? We are heading to the O2 stadium in Greenwich where they play Rugby in London and then just relaxing and seeing a bit of the area there. Our bucket list is getting ticked off one by one! It should be fun!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Alma 42:31
"And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 68:6
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."

My Quote of the Week:
True joy is created and established in one's heart, when one begins to find happiness in the smallest victories.

Love you all!

Love,
-Elder Rivera