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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Final Stop... LONDON!🇬🇧

Good morning!!!

This week has been super awesome!!!

Thursday: February 16th, 2017
We did a lot of preparation today for the baptism of Maureen! We washed and cleaned out the font on exchanges today and we also got to see a familiar face! Elder Avanesjan(or Mika) came down to visit and we bumped into him at the temple which was crazy! He's been gone for nearly 9 months now and it is just super crazy. He shared a lot about how hard it is to transition back into life and is just something we need to be prepared for.

Friday: February 17th, 2017
Well, Elder Dey and I were on exchange tonight and because he has been recovering from a knee injury and so we didn't do to much. I played basketball tonight against one of the youth and his friends and we made a wager on the game. Needless to say, they had to come to the baptism and church this weekend... :)

Saturday: February 18th, 2017
The greatest day and way to finish my time in Crawley... We had the baptism of Maureen today and it was powerful!!! There were so many tears of joy from everyone and it was just the most sacred experience for all of us and it was amazing! A perfect way to finish off my time in Crawley and to be able to have a spiritual high heading into my last area in Peckham! Dream area and I get to serve with Elder Green who is from Australia! We have had some good exchanges in the past and now we get to serve as Zone Leaders together for at least one transfer for sure! We'll see what God has planned. After Maureen's baptism and the baptisms in Brighton, we went and celebrated with Five Guys again before the exchanges were done! I am so grateful for baptism and the joy it brings to the human heart and soul but more importantly, the spiritual cleansing that occurs as we embark on a journey in following our Lord and Savior into the waters. Sometimes... we must walk the shores of life before appreciating the waters of eternity.

Sunday: February 19th, 2017
Last Sunday in the wonderful area of Crawley and it was a grand one. We had a great church service and confirmation of Maureen where we gave her her own set of scriptures and she was overjoyed at the gift! I still can't believe that I served 9 months in Crawley... went by so quick and felt like a blur. We spent some time having meal appointments with the Hunt's, Ryan's, Stamp's(Saturday night), and Brother Simcock. Still can't believe that this chapter has come to a close and now my last chapter for 11 weeks has begun. I'm so excited for what is to come and what we will be able to accomplish in the time that we have together.

Monday: February 20th, 2017
We had accounting today and then another baptismal dinner where we were able to share Muareen's story and also heat the story of all the missionaries that attended about their friends who had made it to baptism! Also had a tender moment with a phone call to home with President's permission as I headed out into a new responsibility. Crazy to hear the voices of your family over a phone(usually skype) and it was just really nice to hear from them for a short moment. President and I then had some closing remarks from the time we have served so closely together these past 9 months and then we talked about the rest of my mission:) I've loved every minute of being an assistant. It is a pure blessing and great opportunity to learn and grow at such a rapid rate under the guidance of President. I'm going to miss it but with every calling comes a future release and that time has now come and the Lord needs my efforts elsewhere and it just happened to be in London for my last 11 weeks. It's going to be a blast!

Tuesday: February 21st, 2017
Well... first day in the mighty land of Peckham! I've been here a couple of times visiting for baptisms and also exchanges but it is super weird to call it my own area! I still can't believe it really... who would have known? I always told myself it would be the dream to finish here and well... God makes
dreams come true.(but I also know my labors are needed here for the area and for the missionaries) We picked up missionaries and helped them while they were waiting for their companions to come in and then we did some preparation for the night and did some quick planning and then had a wonderful Tuesday night activity with some of the members and friends here that are looking into the church. Crazy seeing a lot of familiar faces and it just feels like home again haha. I'M SO EXCITED! We had our first taste of Peckham already with fufu and Okra soup!!! It burned but it was so good... haven't had African food in a while and it reminded me of the good ol times in Reading with Elder Mayes. So much to look forward to here in Peckham and just getting the rest of the work done that the Lord has prepared for me and my companion to do but also the wonderful harvest that is ready for the zone to gather.

Exotic watermelon..!

Wednesday: February 22nd, 2017
Today we will be heading into the Imperial War Museum together with us and the Kennington elders(we live together)(#4ManFlats) and then we will be doing some sport. If you have any ideas of fun activities you've heard or seen in the South of London, let us know! We are trying to make a bucket list of things to do for the next 6 weeks together on preparation days!

Verses of the Week:
Book of Mormon:
Last Office Lunch

I was in my studies this week in Alma 19 and I found something peculiar that made me think and ponder and I found a gem in the Book of Mormon that President didn't even know about. It was pretty cool to see how the Spirit taught me something there that I've never noticed before. So in Alma 19, King Lamoni and his wife are a similitude to Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There are some similarities of both stories and King Lamoni of course connects with Christ who was down for two days and two nights and on the third day he rose again. While he was "dead", his wife was waiting by his side until he rose(which is similar to Mary waiting at the tomb). Then, when Lamoni finally rises, he stretches forth his hand(similar to Christ stretching forth His hand) and says something to his wife(the queen) and Jesus also says something to Mary. There were a lot of similarities to both sides of the story and this is prior to the coming of Christ so in other words... God is a God who works in patterns to show and prepare the way for the coming and understanding of His Son. A good study to go check for yourself!

Fresher Than Fresh...

Big Joe!
The End of the Three Englandites...

The Hunt's! Such an amazing family!

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 62:3
"Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is record in heaven for the angles to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you."

I am so excited to finish in a wonderful area with wonderful members, missionaries, and people to find, teach, and baptize in these last 11 weeks! I have some goals and plans set to get things going and we really want to make this zone explode in these last few weeks!!!

February Baptismal Dinner!
Love you all! Talk to you next week with loads of fun pictures and amazing stories to share!!!


-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Christ's Love is Infinite

Love Day 2017!

Good morning everyone!

This week has been a blast! Moves are finally finished and well... needless to say, I'm super excited for my last 2 transfers! Crazy right... I'll be seeing you all soon enough but there is still work to be done and that is just what is going to get done over these last 12 weeks! Crazy week but full of excitement! Shorter week due to our preparation day being on Saturday so sorry for the shorter email this week but next week will be loads better!

Sunday: February 12th, 2017
Wonderful Sabbath today! My companions and I all gave talks at Sacrament meeting(hasn't happened often in my mission which was nice for a change) and we all had our own topic we decided to cover and I covered "Finding Joy in the Journey" while my companions talked about "Christlike Service" and "Choose Ye This Day". We also had a really great lesson with Maureen today and she is ready for Saturday! Super excited for her and she is just loving everything about life right now! Amazing to see what the Gospel can do to someone who invites it willingly into their heart and their life! 

Monday: February 13th, 2017
Short accounting today and well... moves! Can't say much right now cause of course it's not published out yet but not to much was changed around the mission. We counted and it was only about 37/91 changes which is pretty good for what normally happens haha. Good things happening though around the mission and in the work. A lot of people getting closer to baptism and even more entering the waters than the years previous! Just stuff to be super excited about!

Tuesday: February 14th, 2017
Happy Valentine's Day! Lots of love from me to all of you! We even had some fun today! We were praying before studies today and I had a thought come to mind in making heart shaped notes for people we contact throughout the day and we gave them chocolate with it. God is good and brings out the creative side of me that I didn't know I fully had there... maybe ceramics in high school did what it needed to do for me haha...(or not who knows) Anyways, had the chance to finally go on an official exchange with Elder Chrimes who used to live upstairs before he headed out to Poole to be a Zone Leader and we had a blast together! Had some pretty good talks about finishing our missions and what we wanted to accomplish and do with the time we have left but also covered some simple goals for what we were hoping to accomplish in the future. Had a pretty clear thought come to mind about giving BYU a shot at walking on for the basketball program which I was trying to decide whether to do or not but seems like a good plan for now... we'll have to see where that goes(still need BYU to say something first and then I can go from there).

Wednesday: February 15th, 2017
Today, we finished up the rest of moves and it is now in the books to be sent out to the rest of the mission this Friday and Saturday! Super excited to share more about it next week!

Verses of the Week:
Book of Mormon:
Alma 13:6
"And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest--"

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 54:10
"And again, be patient in tribulation until I come; and, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, and they who have sought me early shall find rest to their souls. Even so. Amen."

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Elder Rivera

Saturday, February 11, 2017

"What Will You Do Next..?"

Good morning! 

This has been a long week... we've had some trainings with the zone leaders and sister training leaders and they all went super well! President taught us the importance of the Holy Ghost in our own lives and also ways in helping others to know what it will do for them in their lives. 

Thursday: February 2nd, 2017
I was meant to be heading to Peckham today for a roaming exchange with the Peckham elders but I didn't manage to make it there. Sadly... I was waiting in the freezing cold rain and then I heard two announcements go off that the train I was meant to be taking had been delayed and then later canceled due to someone being hit by a train... whether it was an accident or on purpose, no idea but it was pretty crazy to hear that... I ended up staying in Crawley today and just worked with the Crawley elders and we had a blast! First time I've had the chance to work with them and so we went out to a place called Copthorne which is on the way to the temple. Racked up a good 12.6 miles in walking today(might not sound like a lot but for someone who is usually in car... it was quite the accomplishment for myself haha. There's a wonderful video that you can search and check out sometime that I had an experience with titled, "Life's Burdens" and you can find it on lds.org under the media library.

Friday: February 3rd, 2017
Well... my postponed London trip to Peckham was successful today! Literally felt like home when I was working here with the elders. We had an appointment cancel on us and so we took the rest of the evening and contacted on Walworth road for about 2 hours. We met some super solid people and one of the coolest people we met was actually a BMX International Champion that was getting ready for some competitions and she expressed how she always prays to God for help in those and was interested to learn more once she finished her racing tour in Europe areas. Super cool! London just has a special feel to it and it was just a lot of good fun with the elders. As I finished up the night and was pondering on the days events, I had a very distinct thought come to mind and so I wrote it down and this is what it said, "Your personal desire to share the gospel becomes interconnected with God's purpose, when you finally begin to see your brothers and sisters for who they truly are and the potential of who they can one day become." It was a very distinct impression and had to record it because it is so true. You never know who is ready or willing to receive the message but the greatest thing about it is if you see them the way God sees them... all things tend to work out perfectly. (Remember Life's Puzzle)

Saturday: February 4th, 2017
Finished up my day in the wonderful city of Peckham and headed off to Southampton tonight as my companions were down there conducting a baptismal interview and we didn't know whether we were staying or not and so I met them there for the potential baptism and sadly... it didn't go through this time. She is so ready... it was someone I taught for 4 1/2 months while I served in Southampton and she has made such amazing progress but family is a hard thing for her. I got to share some personal feelings and thoughts about the whole situation and it was amazing to see the difference it made. God uses us as instruments if we just ask for Him to do so. I shared some personal experiences from my background as the only member and how hard it is myself, but that God takes care of the one who decides to step out of that comfort bubble and join Him on the front lines of the battle. This I know to be true... God gives the toughest battles to His strongest soldiers. I just know what it's like to have questions... to not know... to misunderstand... to desire... to search... to feel... and to know. It is a journey we all must take(whether you believe it or not) everyone will eventually be backed up into the corner and have to choose where they stand... will you Forget Everything And Run or will you Face Everything And Rise(choose your F.E.A.R)? 

Sunday: February 5th, 2017
Definitely without question... the most spiritual sacrament meeting I have ever had! Pre mish and on the mish. It was fast and testimony meeting today and it was POWERFUL!!! Our friend Maureen got up and bore her heartfelt testimony and even asked the entire ward to pray for her as she embarks on her journey to becoming a member of the church. Funny thing about it... a member dropped her a note explaining what the fast and testimony entailed and she somehow "misread" it(it was just the Spirit translating the words for her heart) and thought it told her to bear her testimony. Super cool! Then... the most amazing thing happened... 6 other sisters in the ward(all converts) immediately one by one, got up and shared their experiences and personal testimony and witness of the truth that they received from God about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. All of their testimonies were perfect for her and she just had some amazing connections from there on. Elder Wright and I were the only brethren to share their testimonies. You know it's God telling you to share your testimony and experience when you're sitting there(not planning on saying anything cause these sisters were just doing amazing) and all of a sudden it's like your heart just wants to jump out of your chest, it starts pounding like crazy and you instantly have thoughts like, "Get up there and share your testimony and personal experience as a convert." "Are you sure...?" "Go now..." "Okay, I'll do it! But help me know what to say." You get up there not knowing what you're going to say and God just does what He does best and that is filling your mouth with the words you needed to share and the pure testimony you needed to bear. I felt so much love from God and it helped strengthen my own testimony once again. Only 3 more fast Sunday's left in my mission and the opportunity to share your testimony like that doesn't come very often and I've committed myself to share it every fast Sunday for the rest of my life. Your testimony is the only thing that grows the more you give it away. Interesting huh? So share your testimonies often with everyone around you... you never know who's life you might touch or even CHANGE because of what the Spirit gave you to say.

Monday: February 6th, 2017
So we spent the night at president's on Sunday evening so we could receive some personal training and spend some extra time with them. (Blessings...) He helped us learn a more effective way to plan that will help us out with life beyond the mission and it was amazing! We also had our personal interviews today and I got some seriously good counsel on finishing my mission strong and just making the most of the time I have left and also got a few insights on what is next for Elder Rivera these last two transfers, still not done but an idea of what the Lord wants next. (Another blessing)

Tuesday: February 7th, 2017
We had MLC today and crazy enough... today was my 19th MLC in my mission.... whoa. I think the only thing I can say about today was that I had one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had and it is worthy to share with you all. There is one of our senior missionary couples leaving at the end of the month and we sang to them before they left, one of my favorite hymns, "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." Now, here is where the experience came into play. As we began singing... it started like a little tingle but as we sang and the missionary's voices got louder and more tears were falling... you could literally feel the Spirit of the Lord present in the room. My body was electrified(don't know how to explain it really...) but it was like my whole body was just amped with electricity through it. It was something like I've never experienced before and it felt amazing. As I write this... I can feel some of those same feelings that God has said helps us know when the Spirit speaks with us. If you look at Galatians 5:22, it says that, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." So if you ever have experienced these feelings, ask yourself where those feelings come from and then ask yourself what you're going to do next because of that.

Wednesday: February 8th, 2017
Round one of ZLT today and it went super long... we had to cover a bunch of stuff and practiced a lot! We also talked tonight about moves and started planning and prepping for the coming weeks and well, it's exciting!

Thursday: February 9th, 2017
Round two! Same thing, covered question asking, role of the Holy Ghost, and then cliff hangars! Then I had a crazy flashback moment as I was waiting at the Oxshott station for my train to Guildford. 18 months ago, Elder Richins and I sat down at the very same station the night we were called to be zone leaders. It brought back a ton of good memories with my trainer and the experiences we had together. I sat there and literally just reminisced about the memories but most importantly, I reflected upon just how much has happened, how much I've changed, and how much I've learned about myself and the Savior. There are special moments you have with God when you're all alone. I literally had the train station to myself and the two of us just had a moment of reflection. With 3 months to go... He had me just reflect upon what has happened to me but the lesson that came was... "With all that you've learned, all the opportunities to lead I've given you, the skills, talents, and gifts I've given you, all the knowledge my Spirit has granted you, what next? What are you ready and willing to do next for me? This isn't just about your mission now... you have 3 months here to finish strong, but I'm talking your future here elder. What are you willing to sacrifice for your future success in my work? I have work for you to complete when you get home but I need you to be ready." Uh... okay. Yup. Sure thing. We'll see what happens when I get back but this lines up with a portion of my patriarchal blessing. Again, life's puzzle is being put together one piece at a time.

3 Elders plus Burgers and Fries= Five Guys?
Friday: February 10th, 2017
Well, I spent the day with the Guildford elders and we had a blast! There were lots of hills in Guildford so my legs were shot but hey, worth it. I decided to treat the elders to Five Guys! Now... I told myself I'd eventually get myself Five Guys in England to compare to the one in America and well... I was surprised at how SIMILAR it was! Almost identical in taste, shape, smell, everything! Took me back to America for 30 minutes while we were there. So good... good experience for sure but I probably won't do that again until home.

Saturday: February 11th, 2017
Headed to London today because Elder Wright had a doctors appointment. The rest of the day... well, a relaxing Preparation Day to take advantage of and just rest. We've all been exhausted from this week... it starts to catch up with you and well, your body just feels it. It's alright though, anything for God!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Alma 9:26-27
"And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers."
"And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 49:26-27
"Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you."
"Behold, I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded."

Have a great week!

-Elder Rivera

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Life's Puzzle...

Diners...Brownies...Friends, what more could you ask for?
Good morning everyone!!!:)

This week was fun! Finally tried an exotic meal that I was encouraged to try from Brother Jones before I came to England... so I can check that one off the list. We had some solid teaches and really fun exchanges this week and the mission just continues to flourish and flow naturally! Loving it and having so much fun! Hope everyone is doing well and that life is treating you well with whatever you are currently doing or will be doing this coming week!

Friday: January 27th, 2017
Elder Wright and I had the chance to be in a duo today as Elder Cloward headed off on a roaming exchange to Oxford and he was excited about that. I don't blame him... when I was in Reading, we headed up to OXford a couple of times and the city is just beautiful to walk around and also see the old English style buildings and such. Especially Harry Potter exhibits from where they filmed parts of the movie! Pretty sweet stuff. Anyways, along the day and throughout our travels and time making some administration calls for errors on the accounting system, we again had some deep talks about life... I don't know how the two of us are always the one diving into these deep talks. They don't happen very often but both times we've been together, the conversation just geared towards that direction. We both are on our final 6 & 3 months and so of course, a lot of our discussion was about goals for the future and what we wanted to do with school, family, friends, dating, etc. But... it was a good chance to see where both of us lined up and where we wanted to be come the end of our missionary service and where we want to pick things up when it comes May and August. I've always noticed this about ways God has worked with me and it is through putting figurative "puzzle pieces" together in my life. I've seen it from day one of joining the church and I've seen it along the way of being on my mission. Every little puzzle piece fits somewhere and the best thing about life, not only do you hold a key puzzle piece for your own picture but you hold a puzzle piece for someone else and they likewise for you. Funny how that works. We each play a part in helping each other complete "life's puzzle" and it'll be fun to see what pieces continue to come together and who helps put those pieces in their rightful place.

Saturday: January 28th, 2017 
The Famous Haggis...

So today was just great! Elder Biddle and I had the chance to have an interesting exchange. On Friday we had Haggis for the first time and well, the challenge was accepted and we dug in to the Scottish delicacy. Needless to say, it wasn't too bad actually. I'm happy I finally had the chance to try it but I've heard it if it's not made by the native Scot's, it won't taste the same. Elder Biddle and I made the trek out to an investigators home today which was about a 50 minute walk one way and another 50 back. We walked about 11.07mi total and all I can say is that I have not walked this much since the first 6 weeks of my mission. It killed me... haha. My legs were dead and my body was just exhausted. Glad I had the chance to "wake up" so to speak to not using a car for everything once again. I guess that's what being in a car for 18 months of your mission does to you though. I guess I'm just not fit enough for the streets... :(

Sunday: January 29th, 2017
All 4 of our baptismal dates came to church today! New record for all 3 of us throughout our mission of having that happen in a single weekend! Super sweet! The talks in sacrament were all about well... the blessings of the sacrament and the love of God. In second hour, we had a discussion about the role of the Holy Ghost and the importance of having it in our daily lives. He made a statement that most Latter-day Saints live far beneath their privileges of having the Gift of the Holy Ghost and taking advantage of the Sacrament Prayers' promised blessing of always having the Spirit to be with us. However, he explained that now, beyond the mission, and throughout life, you need to learn to how recognize the Spirit's voice and drown out all the voices of the world that make themselves loudly known to your ears. If you do, 3 things happen. 1. You hear God's voice. 2. The Spirit testifies of truth to your heart and mind. 3. You can know whether the course you are taking is pleasing unto God. We
Toby's VIP Customer's
must study things out in our minds and if we do, then God can tell us if it is right when we ask him if it is. If an answer doesn't come however, God is saying in effect, "Look, I trust you enough to make the decision and I'll be backing you up the entire way. You know what you should do to move forward." Crazy enough, he then looked at us 3 elders and he goes, "brethren, when you get home and start dating and fall in love with a worthy daughter of God, you better kneel down and tell God your plans and ask if it is right... this is one answer God WILL give you when you ask cause He knows how important that decision will be for the rest of eternity." Basically, moral of the story is... Ask and Ye Shall Receive... :) 

Monday: January 30th, 2017
Normal day at presidents.... we were going to start moves but time wasn't our friend today so we'll have to begin this Sunday after church because the rest of our week is pretty stacked on our end and also President's.

Tuesday: January 31st, 2017
Elder Katieli and I had the chance to be on our second exchange today and it was fun! We made brownies for some investigators and well, I'm happy to say that my first time baking brownies turn out super tasty.(thanks to Betty Crocker Brownie Mix:D) We had a fun lesson with Jack and Arcadia today as we taught them the 10 commandments using the fun interactive hand signs to remember them! Then we had dinner at Toby's with all of us and it was so good! Jack and Arcadia made a slap bet that he couldn't finish the King Size plate. (Slap bets... HIMYM TV show for those that know it) They are just doing so well... 8 days without smoking and man... we are excited for the 18th!:) Keep them both in your prayers! Elder Ribeiro and I had a chance to talk for a bit today as we were uploading some videos for the Harvester article and we both came to the conclusion that we had 99 days left in England... WHAT! We both freaked out and talked about how fast time has gone... we had an exchange about 7 1/2 months ago and we both had 9 months left... and then we talked again at another meeting in which we had 6 months left... and then today we realized we had 3 months left...
Malo Lava Sui Fua! (Samoan)
we're both excited... who wouldn't be. I was actually nervous at one point and I asked for some advice from President and he just boldly told me, "Stop worrying about it because it'll be the most amazing experience you'll ever have." Then in my head I'm over here like... wait, I thought that was supposed to be these 2 years... and then he saw the puzzled look on my face and goes, "Going home is something to be excited about, something to anticipate and be anxious for because the rest of your life begins the moment you step off that plane and are greeted by those at the airport. That's when the real mission begins and that is something to look forward to!" Wise words... 

Wednesday: February 1st, 2017
Well... today welcomes February!!! A month of Love and what better way to show our love for the Savior than by bringing souls unto him. As a mission we have 75 people on date to be baptized throughout February which is amazing!!! It's been pouring these last couple of days so outside is pretty muggy and wet and canceled our plans of going golfing today. Next time maybe...but we are doing well! Things are going super well here in England and I am really excited for what is to come... a lot to look forward to and a lot to be smiling about!

Verses of the Week:

Book of Mormon:
Alma 4:19
"And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them."

Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 39:23
"And again, it shall come to pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water, ye shall lay your hands, and they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and shall be looking forth for the signs of my coming, and shall know me."

My Quote of the Week:
It doesn't matter what you know in your mind... if your heart isn't on the same page.

Have a great week!!!

-Elder Rivera