Monday, December 27, 2010

Email - December 27, 2010

A big hello to all back in Utah! We survived Christmas and what fun it was! I sure loved hearing from you all and sorry if I talked too long and just spurred off randomly! Let me just tell you that you cannot have a better Christmas than in the mission field. It sure is an adventure and such a blessing as you forget the gifts, you forget the lights and the dazzle, but you meet in the humble brick home with mud floors, share a Christmas Message and play some games to lighten the kids' faces!

We spent Christmas Eve... eating haha. We ate 3 or 4 times and it was fun to see an Ecuadorian Christmas. For Christmas Eve, Buena Noche, they have dinner at midnight and then crash to bed. The next day they simply spend the morning with the family, there are a few fiestas in the streets, but for the most part it really isn't that big of a deal. It was sad to see. We got SO many questions this week, people bothered on WHY we celebrate Christmas in December when Christ wasn't born then, and then why we even celebrate it at all. I really have never had a better Christmas than here in the field as we testified that it really doesn't matter WHAT date we celebrate, shouldn't we simply rejoice and be grateful for a Savior who was born to save us all from sin and we DO have a day to focus even more on Him? Many families don't have money to give gifts, or if they do it is one or two small items. People really lose hope in the Christmas Season for the worldly pressure to buy to enjoy, but it sure lit me up to simply listen and see the joy in a 3 year old running around with his Christmas toy motorcycle!

We spent the end of the evening with a recent convert family and did a gift exchange. It really was a humbling joy as I received shorts and colored pencils when I simply gave a stocking filled with candy. We shared a message, shared candy, and played games. The best moment of Christmas came in kneeling to pray as a family, in a circle on the mud and wood floor and such a sweet spirit entered the tiny home surrounded by the worldly drinking and partying as a family kneeled to thank the Lord for the wonderful gift of His Son.

Christmas is family, Christmas is Christ, Christmas is hope. I wish I could've given more this Christmas, a Christmas I hope to never forget.

Here comes New Years and that one sure is a riot. They have a really cool tradition here too! They do Paper Mache people, big ones too, and as the clock ticks to the New Year, all the paper mache people are out in the street, hundreds and thousands, and they set them on fire! As the clock strikes Happy New Year, the Ecuadorian Streets are filled with burning paper people. They create themselves, more or less, and burn what they want to leave behind (kind of like our New Year Resolutions) and they create 'El Testamento' which is a will that 'rises from the ashes of their old self of all the new and good they want to accomplish in the coming year.' It really is pretty cool and I'm excited to see the Ecuadorian Streets light up!

My Holiday Season really strengthened my testimony, we live in a world filled with sin, dirt, wickedness, turmoil, but I have a strong testimony of the true hope and peace STILL found in focusing your life in the Savior. It was sad to hear that Christmas really isn't that important to many down here. What I have learned more than anything is found in 2 Nephi 28. The littlest things mean the world, for good or for bad. The world we live in sure is changing and quickly! We need to be doing the little things, we need to be reading our scriptures daily, we need to be praying fervently, we need to listen to the Prophet's voice, we need to Sanctify the Sabbath Day, we need to be on our guard always because we face a sad state of Apostasy in the world. Individual Apostasy is real, and real scary. It is a process, and a small one with HUGE results. Let us learn from 2 Nephi 28, The Christmas Season, and the New Year. Let us really do the littlest things to base our lives in Christ, repent and put your errors behind and make this New Year the best one ever!

Remember, we're in a River. We're either progressing or falling back slowly. Christ is at the head of the River beckoning to us while Satan is doing all he can to let you drift slowly, easily to destruction. Press forward, life is great, it sure is worth living! I sure love you all and am learning so much daily! I am SO excited and want to keep learning, want to get home and just put in in practice, but want to share it here in Ecuador too! I'm all twisted up haha, but I KNOW Christ lives. I KNOW the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I KNOW we have living Prophets today in Thomas S. Monson. I KNOW Christ will come and am so excited. Let us 'prepare every needful thing,' and why don't we enjoy it on the way!

With all my love, with all my desires, and with a huge grin on my face for the work we're involved in.

Elder McGinn

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Pictures - December 20, 2010

Why not send a few more? I've got time! You'll know what I'm talking about, but we lost water the other day and showered with... water pitchers from the sink haha. Pictures of the temple, the shovel used on the grounds, the daughter of Hna Maria Azúa, the lady that was baptized Dec 4th, and Hno Livington Tubay, he's an awesome member with a real sad life story, but sure love him! Oh and Elder Añorga ran out of shirts one day... here's my shirt on him ;)

With love and a grangly Tree Cat

Elder McGinn

Email & Pictures - December 20, 2010

As for this week, Xavier is still progressing! He's the man, this issue is with his parents. They are separated AND he lives with Grandpa who is less active. We were hoping (and still are) for the baptism of he and his little cousins this Christmas, but they weren't at sacrament meeting this week. We'll pass by today to see what's up and if they can still pull through for this Christmas.

Here are a few pictures from the temple, a cool sunset, and baptisms from the 4th of Dec and 18th! We baptized Brayan Navia, the 11 yr old son of the couple we baptized around Mom's birthday and what a riot that was. He called us the day of the baptism to say he's not ready and wants to hold it off a week. Great haha. We ran to his house and zipped through the interview questions again. We had a few doubts and questions but in the end felt confident for the baptism. His parents are still a struggle, they have a lot to learn and are progressing little by little, but we visit them about every other day to keep up the progress and have converts for life in them. What a true joy it was to see this smile on his face.

This week we ran into our Internet Cafe to print off a few things for the day and got talking to the man in charge. We always have our 'hello' but that's it. Turns out Alex is a pastor for an Evangelical Church and was full of questions! It was pretty funny, he came in for the kill (we could feel it and see it on is face) with 'so do you have prophets in your church?' Well yes actually we do! 'Hmm... but really, living prophets on the earth right now?' Why most certainly and it's great that you ask cause here's a picture of him! And he just gave a Christmas Talk that we'd like to share with you and the whole family! We really got him in a bind AND interested with that one. He accepted and we're going to pass by this week to share with him the true meaning of Christmas, I'm so excited!

To finish, he went in for one more kill... 'so you have prophets, but do you have pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth?' Well I'm so glad you asked Mr. Alex, here's an Article of Faith card for ya, why don't you read number 6 and tell us what you think? I can't wait to share this message with him, the Lord truly prepared us with a man full of questions and missionaries ready to answer with a bold testimony and smile. He told us something that I will never forget. He said 'you know, the difference between you guys and other religions that I really like, you guys truly listen. You listen, you respect, you share. Thanks for listening.' Whether you are a missionary, a member, a friend (I think that covers you all ;)) Learn to listen. It doesn't have to be religion and you don't have to give feedback, but the gift of having ears to listen really brings trust and friendship.

The gift to simply listen and love changed our companionship this week. It was a rough one, a week of patience. But this morning I asked Elder Añorga what was up, in a nice way haha, and he just vented it all to me. Things I had done (whether I knew or not), things on his mind in his life, with investigators, whatever the case! Our companionship turned back into the friendship we used to have by simply listening. Learn to listen, show you care, smile while you're doing it too cause why do we live if we can't smile in the process?

I sure love you tons. Know I'm so happy here and wouldn't change this calling, responsibility, and privilege for the world! I'm so stoked to spend Christmas in the service of He who was born, pushed through, and conquered humble circumstances. There is no better life than that in the mission field. Yeah it's tough, but what an adventure. More than anything you learn to rely on the Lord in the littlest of things and He really comes through if you just look! Love you tons! Estoy lleno de ánimos para hablarles este viernes, el 24 de Diciembre a las 8 en la noche!

And this is more for Cam and Syd... but I am perfecting my tree cat skills. We jumped on a bus to head down into the center of this city for groceries. Elder Añorga got in fine and the bus zipped away! Haha I ran a few steps and leaped for a step of salvation and caught hold to the outer handles of the bus. I literally had my toe nails on the outer rim of a step, my arms flexed and hands gripped tight as can be as we flew 15 minutes to the center of town! What an adventure and I simply had a blast smiling and waving down the common towns people with odd looks on their faces! Haha anyway... the tree cat lives on, he conquers mango trees, taxis, busses, and streets turned to oceans with the rain we're getting down here!

Feliz Navidad!

Elder Griffin McGinn

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Email- December 13, 2010

This week was really busy but just awesome! We went to the temple Saturday, I've tried sending pictures, but things just aren't working out, but I really have never seen a more beautiful temple, in and out. It was an experience of a life time, even in the taxi bus with 16 elders for a 4 hour one-way ride haha.

This week we've been blessed in mysterious ways. The mission has a goal, from President Gamboa, to have 325 baptisms for THE MONTH OF DECEMBER. Nuts. Elder Añorga and I were doing great, some fell, we're still a bit panicked, but the Lord really just puts miracles in your way if you keep your eyes open, be obedient, and act on the Holy Spirit. We could have 8 more baptisms including January 1st!

With the short on time I'll tell you about one kid, Xavier Zambrano of 16 years who is just the man. We met him just in visiting his less active Grandpa and got sharing a message. He's a rough kid with necklaces and bracelets galore with a piercing in his lip. He told us how he used to read the bible all the time, then his parents separated, he moved in with his Grandparents, and there went the bible. We got him the Book of Mormon our first visit and he just dived in! The second visit we got him a baptismal date for Christmas, he wants so bad to change his life around and 'show his parents he's not the kid the people say he is.' The third visit we taught la ley de Castidad y la palabra de sabiduría (the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom) and it was just awesome! Right then and there he took out his lip piercing and gave it to us, I've got it in my journal! Haha. It was tough for him, he wanted to hold off till his birthday in January, we brought up his baptism and he took it right out. He is so open, so ready and willing to keep the commandments, to listen to us, to pray, to APPLY the scriptures and not just read them! He even went alone to an activity Saturday at 8am at the church without really knowing anyone! He is really progressing, we had some issues with parents this week and need their permission, but things are going well. The tough one is his Aunt... we were praying to begin a lesson and she walked in and muttered loud enough for all to hear 'el espíritu de maldición.'(the spirit of curse). It's interesting haha.

We are working, the Lord really just threw miracles our way this week. A REAL less active man who left every time we taught his investigator wife and kids to go drink caught us this week. He told us to meet him at his house that night. We went and with tears of gratitude he told us of the miracle in a car wreck, prayer, and the Book of Mormon. He is changing his life, he is coming with us to visits, he is out to baptize and be sealed to his family.

I don't know why, but the Lord is really showing himself to us this week! I am so blessed, the Spanish is progressing, my family and friends are just great, I can't count the blessings of this week and my mission. EVERY YOUNG MAN SERVE A MISSION. DO NOT LOSE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE THE LORD. HE HAS COMMANDED YOU; HE WILL GUIDE YOU, YOU WILL BE EVERYTHING HE NEEDS YOU TO BE IF YOU JUST TRUST AND ACT. I will NEVER look down on the decision to serve a mission and I can't look down at my lack of preparation, just thank the Lord for calling me, for trusting me, and keep working each day WITH A SMILE.

The work is great, I'm excited for Christmas to share the message of a loving Savior who came and went for all and still provides for us daily. Do all you can to prepare, He is coming, I can't work hard enough, I lack so much and yet I'm so happy. I try so hard to do my best AND THAT is all the Lord asks of each of you. Just do your best, don't do perfect, that was the Savior. Just do your best.

I sure love you all and can't wait to open more presents, call you, figure out the solution to why I'm slowly losing weight everywhere BUT a growing stomach, and fighting the bus system each day as a limbering tree cat!

Christ lives, He loves you. He is your Savior and He is mine. All He asks is to follow and to receive the blessings! Please do it.

Con todo mi corazón, deseos, y sonrisa... (With all my heart, desires and smile…)

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Email - December 6, 2010

So as for this week...

We had a baptism! Hna Maria Azúa was baptized this week and what an absolute blessing from the Lord. She came into our arms ready and really had an impact on my testimony. As we taught her the commandments, she always responded 'yes I will keep them because the Lord has commanded us!' Wow! Tons of her family is members in our ward. The Lord really put a miracle in our hands with her and it sure feels good to have another baptism after so long.

We've changed our efforts, really buckled down to make our investigators feel the NEED for baptism and not simply say 'okay sir,' cause the people are really open down here. It was a different week, trying to change our efforts and I'm really striving to put a certain quote to life 'My life is like my shoes, to be worn out in service,' I want to end EACH DAY of my life worn out, pooped, but with a big ole grin cause it was all done to the max.

The Lord really has blessed me with the Gift of Tongues! Of course I can't understand all and of course I'm still a bit lost, but I have matured so much with the help of Elder Añorga, he really pushes me to be my very best and to truly forget everything but the work. At times it's tough, with the language gap most of all, but I sure am maturing and we have such a friendship. ALL THINGS have downs, but the ups sure are awesome and we are out to have converts for life, not simply a baptism. What could be real cool, is in one year we'll be going to the temple again as missionaries and guess who could be too... our two baptisms recently! Hna Maria and her husband and the couple we baptized around Mom's birthday can be sealed in a year! How awesome that would be!

Our progressing investigators are dropping, we're doing more contacting, which I've never really done out here. People don't want to change or aren't ever home, but the work will progress! We can contact, we can go to investigators, we can go to members, less actives, there is always something to do! This week was slower and back to fishing and hunting those that want to listen. STAY ACTIVE family, friends, whoever is within the reach of my voice. It was hard to tell the husband he couldn't baptize his wife cause he's been inactive for so long and I got to think of the 10 virgins. How would the Savior feel and how would you feel being told 'sorry... you weren't active when the moment came.' Get active, stay active, be anxiously at a good cause and KNOW that the Lord is coming to save us! I love the words of Jacob in 2 Nephi 9, that the work will be great and everlasting... on one hand or the other... joy or pain, salvation of suffering. Look at the blessings the Lord has offered, we simply have to follow!

Know something... I am the happiest man in the world! I would NEVER change this chance to serve the Lord for these two years, just wish I could be the servant he needs! No one is perfect, just try perfectly and it is good enough! (2 Nephi 25:23). I love the work with all my heart, I KNOW my Savior lives and loves me and guess what? He's your Savior too! I sure love you all and want to tell you how great your worth is to the Lord. Act when he calls cause he wants to see you shine and wants you to recognize you can too!

I hid and kept my backpack on when a Member Lady asked for a blessing this week, I felt
inadequate and would give my spot to Elder Añorga and her RM son. She caught me though! She had me give the blessing, not the anointing and I truly was filled with the individual love the Lord has for me and all his children as the spirit poured the words to her heart. I felt such a love as we finished and she had tears of gratitude just pouring down her face and she NEVER cries! Never put yourself to the side. Know your worth to the Lord, Act when he calls cause he wants to see you shine. I shone in that moment, thanks to a loving Father in Heaven who wanted to tell me he loves and trusts me through that blessing.

La iglesia es la verdad, yo sé todo es posible por medio de la fe, la diligencia y la paciencia. Mantengan su mira puesta unicamente en la gloria de Dios y permítele brillar en sus almas! Soy Elder McGinn, estoy dando todo, cada día, con la certeza que Jesucristo vive. (The church is the truth, I know everything is possible through faith, diligence and patience. Keep your eye single to the glory of God and let it shine on their souls! I'm Elder McGinn, I'm giving everything, every day, knowing that Jesus Christ lives.)

Love you all!

Elder McGinn