Monday, December 26, 2011

Email - December 26, 2011

That sure was fun. I was thinking last night and realized that we are weird. We had nothing edifying or constructive to say, it was all random… stories, sound effects, I love our family! I also realized something that I'm sure you missionaries will understand. I felt such a peace after talking to you all and a sense of 'I'm so glad I'm not there with them... cause I'm here!' It is hard, it is different, but there is no greater joy or sweeter sense than being here in the mission field trying to emulate the life of He who we celebrated this week in Salvation of my fellow men. I don't want to see you, well Skype was just fine haha. But I don't want to see you for 6 more months, I don't want time to fly by either. I am just too happy and there is so much to do with such little time. We are here in the service of our God, serving our fellow men, and I am a witness of the true happiness that comes in losing yourself in this cause.

I'm glad you all had a Merry Christmas and hope the phone call was fun and uplifting for you all, it sure was for me. I see the blessings of serving a mission in so many ways, my family is still strong, still progressing and we shall live forever.

Ah and thank you for the gifts! I LOVE the sweets, like always, and they will be gone in no time! Even though I should treasure them... I can't. The fruit snacks are already gone haha.

I should leave you with something spiritual today, I know it is small, but something impacted me this week. I was stressed, so was my companion, we were hurrying off to a visit and trying to keep our unity as a companionship. In flying down the street I saw an old lady who was waddling with a few bags of groceries and her purse. A small impression came to my mind to stop and help her. We did. We walked less than a block to her home, she was almost home when we stopped to help, but the sweetest spirit filled my heart and I broke into tears as we simply conversed with her, asked about her, listened to her, forgetting us, our problems and our cares. She thanked us for taking a load off her back, physically and emotionally. The rest of my day was wonderful and seeking unplanned service. That is the mission, that is Christ, That should be our mission. Be aware not of ourselves, but of others. Listen to THEM, share about THEM, help THEM, uplift THEM instead of listening to US, sharing about US, helping US or trying to uplift US. That is too much work to feel good and the falls are too hard and painful. Let us listen to the spirit, let us forget ourselves, let us be humble and love and lift, even if it is 2 bags of groceries a half of a block down the road.

I love this mission and know Jesus is the Christ. I know He died for me and that if I give all I can, I will gain a spot in Heaven with Him. Eso es la misión y lo que me esfuerzo por recordar y vivir todos los días. Eso es lo que trato de avivar en las vidas de mis hermanos ecuatorianos. No hay mayor sacrificio, no hay mayor gozo, los dos van a la mano y quiero atesorar cada momento que me queda!

Elder McGinn

Monday, December 19, 2011

Email & Pictures - December 19, 2011

Would you rather... real experiences from my week in Ecuador... (1) get bitten by a cat with rabies like one of our investigators or (2) have a shot put in your belly button for getting detected to HAVE rabies ? That last one makes me sick.

As for my week, all is well... as a Zone! Haha our sector is dead, but we are going to lift it up again. We had a fun party with 2 other zones with the Amaya family and we did a cool musical number as a zone. I sent a picture of a few from my group with our Santa Hats (the sister missionary Hna. Goerring is already home! Weird). It was fun and I absolutely love the temple. I can't wait to go through weekly when I am home, that is the best feeling in the world to know families can be together forever, also to know that the McGinn family WILL be for our faithfulness, to know that God trusts me to bring that same feeling surety into the lives of those here in Ecuador. I just love it. It is the House of God. We receive guidance from on high. The mission is to baptize, to edify the kingdom of God, yet there are many steps to get there and many other blessings and miracles seen for faithful service.

You have all heard of Jimmy Quiroz, a great investigator that is simply waiting for marriage to get baptized. Their family has been struggling, we did not know, but it could be felt as we entered the room. We had planned to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon as a family, as we always do, yet in the first prayer the strongest impression to teach family prayer came to mind. The husband and wife always pray, they are great, yet they have never done it as an entire family. Jimmy was taken aback, he was surprised yet excited like I had never seen. You could see and feel that there was a great desire to try it and receive the needed blessings. He was scared to call the family, we called them with him and he felt better, we understood haha, yet the sweetest spirit filled the room as we kneeled to pray. He asked me to offer the prayer, I did so happily. We prayed for each of the kids, the parents, their challenges and we saw one of the many miracles whose sweetness never dies as we finished the prayer. The family seemed happier, more united, more trusting from the Kid's and Parent's point of view. I know it is a tiny story, I know it isn't much, I know I have little time, yet I want to testify to you all here and now that miracles happen daily. They are the blessings of feeling what I felt in the temple, the reality of the plan of salvation, yet feeling it at home. It is from applying true principles daily, prayer, study, worship, service.

I testify that God loves you all, He wants us to return to Him and simply asks that we do it step by step daily as we pray, read and worship as a family. That is happiness and THAT is how I can be sure of my eternal family for we applied, apply and will always apply these principles. I am grateful for parents who love me and who teach me what is right, who correct me when I am wrong and who guide us all together just how we will be in Heaven. I love this mission, I love my Savior and I so happy to represent Him here in Ecuador. Time is just too short.

Elder McGinn

Monday, December 12, 2011

Email - December 12, 2011

So last week I beat off Rocky... this week I thought was even better. I'll tell it all in one phrase... 'If it weren't for you kids and your meddling dog I would've read the chapter you left me in the Book of Mormon!' We were teaching a lesson and all was great until I heard the familiar jingle of Scooby Doo! 17 months without hearing that and wow was it rough, but we won! If it weren't for me and my meddling companion, Satan would've taken control there, haha.

Anyway, this week has been good! A panic attack trying to save December and get January up and bumping again, but it feels great to have President's trust out in our Zone, we have changed it 180 degrees. We need more people always, we are here to find the chosen, those prepared by the Lord and we can't waste time with those who simply want to listen. The work is interesting here, you go from having many to having no investigators frequently in your search for those prepared by God. But we keep climbing this nasty mountain! I love the work here and it is so fun seeing the Christmas Spirit pop up throughout the Mountain. I love this time of year, no matter where you are in the world this Spirit of Christ and loving all shines through.

I thank you all so much for your prayers and support, I have honestly felt a guiding hand beyond my own this week and know you have all been helping me. It is getting so much better and I have an experience that touched my heart and humbled me that I'd like to share with you all. During the middle of the week we had a good morning study, an okay planning session, but as the day started things started to fall through the roof. It was a rough day between us two. We didn't see eye to eye, one would try to help the other yet nothing worked, we got annoyed with the little things and the day seemed to simply crash. At one point near the end of the day it seemed that we both, personally, had a change of heart. We had a sweet lesson on the Plan of Salvation to prepare an investigator for Baptism and we started to see eye to eye and have the spirit as a companionship. Sadly, we thought, the day was coming to an end just as things got better, as it seems to have happened this whole time together. We were wrong, we were both humbled with what happened next. My companion, upon arriving home, got really sick and had a terrible fever. We thought it'd pass, we were going to wait till morning, but it kept getting worse. We decided to give Elder Gonzalez a priesthood blessing. PAUSE... what would have happened if we had ended the night ticked at each other and happy to have personal time alone? I would not have been worthy to give that blessing. Things would have been completely different. I was able to put my hands over my companion's head and bless him as his loving Father in Heaven were there with us. It was a sweet blessing, he got better, we came closer as companions. The priesthood power is special, it is unique, it NEEDS to be preserved and is only done so by keeping humble, maintaining good, clean feelings and thoughts and I am so grateful that the Lord had that in mind as we saw eye to eye at what seemed the end of our day.

I know that was quick, but I wanted you to see in the short time I have that your prayers for me were answered. We are doing better, we will keep improving, there is much to go still. I love this work, I love this season, I love the fruits of diligence! We had a baptism last week and should have another this weekend!

Honor your priesthood, love those around you, forget yourself and serve others. I am trying to do the same and I testify to you that even though it gets tough, it ALWAYS comes through in the end! That is God's sweet plan.

Love you!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Email & Pictures - December 5, 2011

Well, I guess we should always start with something funny, for I have discovered the reality of a mystery that I found... stupid. The Mystery of losing ONE shoe and not both of them. How can you lose one shoe, shouldn't you keep them both on or both off? Haven't you all seen that, one shoe in the park, on the bus or in the street? Well I became one of those the other day. I went on an interchange with another Elder and I have little elastic straps outside of my bag. I put my flip flops there on the outside of my bag. I got to the interchange alright, with two flip flops. The next day was a different story and I'll forever wonder just where did that other one end up? We got on bus to meet up somewhere and finish the interchange, got home, worked the next day, but the next morning to get in the shower I only have one flip flop! I was bewildered, still am actually... but I now know that it is possible to lose one shoe and not the other. Today I've got to buy flip flops, let’s hope they have my size.

This week was a good week! We passed through transfers and I am still with Elder González. Three months have passed here on this mountain, and looks like many more, cause Elder Gonzalez goes home this transfer. That'll be the 3rd elder I've sent home! The week was full of interchanges and finishing up the last touches to move into our new house, but we did have a bit of success. It's been tough with my companion and with the Zone, yet my testimony was strengthened that there is a God above who knows me and loves me perfectly and does what He does for a reason. I decided to take my notebook and write down what came to mind in Fast and Testimony Meeting and it was one of the best meetings in the world, filled with revelation, filled with comfort, filled with repentance. God is a loving Father in Heaven who knows us, trusts in us and expects us to work. Yet from time to time also gives us comfort and encouragement.

I have learned really well in this past change and this past week that there is no time to think of or worry about ME. There is no ME time and as we worry to find that ME time we simply make life worse and more stressful, yet as we seek to forget ourselves and uplift others, we find ourselves more happy, more secure, and more satisfied with our own lives. An example... on an interchange with one of our District Leaders we had to contact, they don't have many investigators. I let him run the first one and we showed up, said hello and tried to share a message... what happened? The Lady listened patiently and then said 'thanks, but no thanks.' Our next contact I wanted my companion to see what I have learned in my time and my difficulties in the mission. We knocked on the door, another lady came out and we asked her how she was, asked what she was doing, asked her how she felt about life AND WE LISTENED. She opened completely and talked for a good 20 minutes. She then asked us a question about what we do, we answered her question promising her that this message blesses families and she asked us if we could come back tomorrow to share it with her. I know it is a small story, I know it may be dumb and I know I may talk about this subject a lot in my letters to you all, but a huge point was reinforced in those contacts... there is a difference when you forget about YOU and what YOU have to say and trade it for THEM and how THEY FEEL and what THEY have to say. We rarely talked about God or Christ, of course at the end we did, but MUCH of the Gospel of Christ and His teachings is simply living it and showing it towards others. It has been tough, but I have tried lately to apply that principle in my teaching, in my companionship and in my relation with God. We need to be humble, we need to be ourselves, we need to recognize that WE, ALONE, are nothing and not important, yet in a Group, as a Whole, as a Married Couple, Best Friends, a Companionship, whatever the relation may be, we are the world.

I don't know if any of that made sense haha, I hope it did, this Internet Cafe is a bit crazy this morning, but I have learned to love, I have learned to forget me and remember them, I have learned to ask and to listen not just to pass time, but to find how to help those around me better, I have learned that God trusts me, that He wants me to work in His glory... bringing to pass salvation in the lives of others (Alma 13:3, 6) and I am trying so hard to do it. I will finish with something I got out of President Uchtdorf last night... God doesn't ask perfection, He simply requires a perfect effort... that we give our best. (Mosiah 4:6)

I love this Gospel, I love this Christmas Season, I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I love you all! I will also love to have a full pair of flip flops by the end of the day...

Elder McGinn

I must explain the pictures I sent, one is the baptism of Kayla Gomez a few weeks ago with her family. Another is a pretty view I have every day up on Mapasingue. Another is when I walked by a tree and we got in a fight and it ripped my shirt sleeve almost completely off. Thanks to an investigator that gave me three paper clips, she gave me just what I needed to hold my shirt together till the day finished. (Paper clips to fix a shirt... I am SO in ecuador! haha, but it worked) and the last is of Rat Poo! We had a rat in our previous house and one night we discovered it's home and tried to kill it, I have many great pictures and we about got it with my leatherman.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Email - November 28, 2011

I'd prefer to see you on Christmas than call you... why? To SMACK you all for your comments on MY Thanksgiving! Rub it in, rub it in. OUR lunch... well the members forgot. We got a bit of the left overs. Rice. Chicken, Beans. Fried Bananas. Grapes. An Apple. Water. Anyway, I tried to forget all that.

I walked by a tree and we got in a fight and it ripped my shirt sleeve almost completely off. Thanks to an investigator that gave me three paper clips, she gave me just what I needed to hold my shirt together till the day finished. (Paper clips to fix a shirt... I am SO in Ecuador! haha, but it worked). We have a rat in our house and one night we discovered it's home and tried to kill it, I have many great pictures and we about got it with my leatherman. The good thing is we are moving houses on Wednesday! Anyway, I guess I should share something spiritual and not so worthless haha. Show my family that I do more than hunt rats, rip shirts and lose myself on a mountain.

This week was AWESOME! And before I get to the real great part, I should get all the wiggles out of me and share one last story. My companion and I knocked out Rocky. Yes, Rocky Balboa. We went to visit a family and had a wonderful lesson, we asked Rubén, one of the sons, if he had prayed about the Book of Mormon and if he should get baptized and JUST as we were getting good, one of the neighbors was watching Rocky 4 and blasted the volume, it was during a fight. It's ON! Us vs. Rocky haha, but as we got talking to him, midst the distractions, it strengthened my testimony of a loving Father in Heaven who blesses us as we put forth sincere effort. It's never free. Rubén came to tell us that he finally conquered his fear and asked God and that he felt such a peace in his heart that he had never felt anywhere else. No one else in the family prayed and they all have doubts, yet Rubén courageously and full of determination said that he knows it is the true Church and that he will prepare to be baptized the 17th of December! God answers prayers, you shall know the truth of all things if you simply ask God and seek the solution in as many ways possible. Rubén helped strengthen my testimony of Moroni´s promise. That happened in 2 other occasions this week with Rafaella (a 13 year old skinny girl who reminds me of Sydney and will be baptized this week) and Miguel (a 17 year old boy who does NOT remind me of Cam haha and will be baptized the 17 of December). God answers prayers, people progress, I have learned that here in Ecuador we must not lose time. Seek those who are ready and who want the Gospel, they are great in number, simply hard to find. We got our baptism goal in November with 17 baptisms! 3 Months ago this Zone would get 6 per month, the tides have changed. December will be even better yet!

But the best part of my week came with Elder Uceda. I have no doubt that he is called of God. We had a conference with him with a few Zones on Wednesday and then a meeting with us Zone Leaders on Saturday. It was amazing the things he talked about. We talked about many things pertaining to missionary work, but two things I would like to share with you all briefly were one, how to search and ponder the scriptures, not simply read or study them; and two, how to truly pray. He opened up D&C 4 and we studied verse 2 for a half hour. Oh my gosh! Haha it was amazing. Do we use the Foot notes? Do we use a dictionary? Do we ask why this or why that? He opened my eyes and I want you all to try it (if you're already good, okay, but if not, learn to perfect your scripture study!)

Alma 53:20-21 impacted me this week and will leave you to read it with a few questions in mind... What is the difference between Youth and Men, because verse 20 talks of the same group of Stripling Warriors but refers to them as Men in the end... why? What is the difference? How does that apply to me? In Verse 21, what is the difference between Keep the Commandments and Walk uprightly before God? They seem the same... are they? Did God screw up and repeat it or do they mean different things? Write me back and tell me personally what you learned! There are many ways and many interpretations. Well, I have no time left haha, but he also said that we don't know how to pray. We repeat, we don't listen, we never write what we feel, we don't remember what is said or asked, BUT we can improve!

I will end with this, out of all the missionaries there, he called out 4 to have an interview with. He called my name. After the conference he called me in to interview me. I sat in the same room and was interviewed by one of the Seventy. It was one of the best experiences in my life. He assured me that God loves me, He knows me, He is happy with my work here and will always support me. That was an interview I will never forget. God lives, He calls men in these days to support us and keep us on the path back to Him. Let us ponder the scriptures, let us converse with God, let us be obedient and let us remember the WHY behind what we do.

I love you all and will hear from you soon!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Email - November 21, 2011

Well we finished this week with another Baptism! Sorry, this computer is terrible so I cannot send you pictures. Oh well. She is a little 10 year old girl whose family are members. Her mother never gave permission until two weeks ago, it was easy, there was a lot of ward support and it was fun to see the ward get excited again. We continue to lift this sector out of the dust from where it was when I came! I hope you have one awesome Thanksgiving, THAT is something that is not celebrated here, only talked about when people are around me. We'll see if the members live up to what they told me about our lunch on Thursday... This coming week will be awesome!

We had a cool Zone Activity today to clean one of the Chapels. Elder Useda is coming and on Wednesday we have a meeting with him with a few Zones and Saturday with just us Zone Leaders, I am so excited to be so close to him and learn from one of the Seventy. There are 28 Zone Leaders in the mission of 200ish missionaries, that meeting sure will be great.

This week has been crazy with interchanges and rushing to secure the other baptisms in the Zone, but a few things have touched my heart in trying to become a better leader, companion, instrument, and down the road husband and father. I've been trying to be a leader more like Christ and a few things have touched me, I'll mention 3.

One is how He always said 'do that which ye hath seen me do...' He never mentions 'said, told you to do, etc,' He was a leader who led, loved, and lived by Example. The other is how He loved the Sinner and not the Sin. That has been really hard for me with patience and love, even talking about loving the Disobedient and not the Disobedience. As a leader, father, mother, husband, wife, whatever, we can never look at and state the obvious. It is so easy. Christ could love the Sinners, yet not the Sin for He sought the reason behind the action to try to understand those to whom He served. Many times we fall into this, but let us look for the reason WHY not the easy and obvious WHAT. Last, yet not least to His many attributes is the working with, not ahead of, others. He was so capable of many miracles yet walked and talked and inspired those He was around by being at their side and supporting them through the tough and the easy. In trying to apply these in my mission, in my sector, with my investigators, it has been fun to see a family come closer to each other and closer to the Lord.

Carlos Lopez is not a member of the church, his wife is reactivating herself and they have two kids. We ran into them weeks ago during our lunch at their house, we simply opened our mouths and he let us come back to visit them. At first his wife was doubtful of his progress, yet we tried so hard to understand them, show them the way, and guide them in their journey home to Heaven. A few of the first lessons turned into battles and blame throwing, yet they now pray as a family, come to church, read the Book of Mormon and get after us when we forget to give them readings. He will be baptized in December. People simply need a chance, from those at home and those around them in the world.

Another short story comes from today! We were buying groceries and a cart man helped us take the stuff out to a taxi. As we were waiting outside we simply began to ask HIM about HIS life. The important thing is not what WE have to say, better yet it is what we have to LISTEN from them. We showed interest in his life, he opened up about his family, work and we had an awesome friendly conversation. He felt so good, cause he felt listened to and loved. At the end, turns out he lives right by us and we got a visit with him this Friday. Pay close attention to how I finish this story. We ARE here on earth and in the mission field to talk of God and bring men to Him again, it is only through this message of the Restoration BUT he was so anxious to get a visit from us and read a pamphlet and we never mentioned out message, simply mentioned that we were missionaries and we live by him. Now I am NOT ragging on the things of God, yet I want to open your eyes at how easy and beautiful this work is. We simply showed him complete attention, interest, listened about his life and asked if we could come by one of these days. We preached the Gospel... like I said a few weeks ago... without words.

It doesn't matter if they are members, if they are not members, people and family and friends don't want to listen, they want to be listened to! Let us listen, let us serve, let us forget ourselves in this great cause and we will see that marriages are saved, children are taken care of, youth find a feeling of importance, and we all find meaning to life, our life eternal.

I am so happy here, I just love this work and am so grateful to have a family in Utah that loves me and has taught me so much. I'm grateful for friends who listened to me and showed their concern. I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who does the same if we simply give Him time in our lives.

Love you all and Happy Thanksgiving! It'll be about the same meal... banana cream pie, turkey, yams, potatoes - here it'll be bananas, chicken, fried bananas, squished bananas and how can I forget, Rice!

Haha love you all!

Elder McGinn

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Email - November 14, 2011

If it ain't the old gang again... well I wish you all a good day on my companion's birthday! We'll go have a ride on the town today. I have lost a lot of weight, but putting on my blue jeans today, I realized that this mountain has done my thighs and rear quite well! I love this work and it's fun to see the changes and progress! As for the work here, the mountain doesn't kill us as missionaries (the insane ones at least haha, I just LOVE running up and down the sketchy hills) and it's not that the people aren't receptive, they are just really lazy to be honest. With Elder Hasvold, in two weeks we found almost 40 NEW investigators, not just people we contacted and taught something, but out of those 40, maybe 5 have gone to church. The investigators would rather sit at home than hike up and down to an unknown church and the less active members would rather do the same than sit in sacrament meeting. It's been real tough. I noticed that the majority of the active members either live down by the church or on the slopes right above the church... less movement. That has been the biggest struggle, but Elder Gonzalez and I are getting it up again with 14 investigators at church the past two weeks! I have a story to share on the hill and the members to motivate you all, as it did me, not to rag on the work here...

Kayla Gomez got baptized! It was such a wonderful baptism full of family and friends from both wards, I'd send you pictures but the computer isn't my friend today. We will have a baptism this week and if all goes well, 2 the following week! We are finally lifting 'The Wart of Guayaquil... Mapasingue' haha, but the work is beginning to take flight, it has been so fun and very tough to get this sector up and going again. I just love the challenge.

Anyway, I learned a very important lesson this week, well it was retaught in my life this last Thursday. How important is the Sacrament to you? What does it mean PERSONALLY? For we all know what it means generally. How would your life be different without the Sacrament, or would you like to feel its utter importance in your life? Well we were visiting a 10yr old girl and less active family who will be baptized this Saturday and a few family members answered 'yes' when I asked them if it'd be easier to be active in the church with the help and faith of their parents? The inactive mother got offended and ran me up the wall with how she reads the Book of Mormon, prays and has never lost her faith. I didn't want to offend her, yet didn't know what to say. Then a strong spiritual impression taught me a lesson and then her as I shared what came to my mind. 'But... there is something you have lost... The Sacrament, and it's about time to get that back into your life.'

Now don't misunderstand me, SHE IS NOT THE BAD GUY IN THE MOVIE, the lesson ended well and it was such a joy to see her in church on Sunday and shake her hand, yet we all learned the NEED, not just the importance, of the Sacrament. Let us all think twice about the Sacrament. Why we take it? When was the last time? The blessings we've seen or those we'd still like to see? Like Elder Oaks said, Sacrament Meeting is the most important meeting in the Entire Church. Let us renew our covenant with the Lord. Let us be clean again. Let us become who God and Christ simply beckon us to become by repenting, as Elder Anderson once said. We may be doing all well, but without the Sacrament, we are kidding ourselves. Making covenants doesn't work without keeping them and always let us remember that God needs us with Him again just as we daily need Him and long to see Him again. The church is true, the Sacrament is my favorite part of Sunday and I want it to become my favorite part of the week. In speaking of covenants, let us get into the temple to make AND keep covenants, what a beauty, what a joy. THAT is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, LIVING IT! DOING IT! And trust me, you shall enjoy it.

This week, and my whole mission in fact, has been full of miracles and they shall continue! I love you all so much, I love this mission, I love the Lord, I love showing God that I need AND WANT His help by renewing covenants I have made with Him.

Love you all and will hear from you soon!

Elder McGinn

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Email & Pictures - November 7, 2011

As for me...I haven't showered in two days. We have no water. I took advantage and had a slick beard going on haha, but the water came back today and so did the razor. We'll have a baptism this week for sure! We're stoked, it has been a crazy week and big challenge for our sector has been the sector itself, this big mountain really gets in the way of church attendance. We keep searching for those who won't simply listen, but will act. I sent pictures of the hill, our Elders Quorum Pres. and Family, and Jimmy Quiroz who is simply waiting money to get married to get baptized. Everyone says that in simply one month I've lost a ton of weight up here! This mountain is a beast.

I want to share with you all something that has been on my mind all week. ´Share the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.' How do we do that wise guy? Haha Be an example of the believers. The Gospel is beautiful and so amazing, and just as the Savior shared from the Bible and the Book of Mormon 'así alumbra vuestra luz delante de los hombres, para que vean vuestras buenas obras y glorifiquen a vuestro Padre que está en los cielos.' We are the light of the world and that light will shine! The light is renewed as we partake of the sacrament and shines daily as we daily study the scriptures, converse with our Father in Heaven, serve others, hopefully front hurdles in life, attend the temple and the list goes on. Now I'm not judging you haha, but who of you that are reading this, that has the Higher Priesthood, has their consecrated oil valve with them? Yesterday we were given a moment in Priesthood and I asked the same type of question and the result was surprising. Men, carry it with you always. If you don't have one, get one, if you don't know how to use it, learn how, if you are struggling and may not use your priesthood, do what needs to be done and become that Father, Husband, and Son your families need! I had two experiences this week were I learned the importance of being worthy, being ready and doing as the Lord commands with His power. I had the sweet experience to comfort two fellow missionaries, down, depressed and hopeless; both moments started by heeding a spiritual prompting to forget me and both ended with two of the sweetest blessings of comfort and counsel I have ever been a part of. The Priesthood is to be used and I am so grateful that the Lord trust us with it!

As for the rest of you... haha just joking. But yesterday in Fast and Testimony Meeting, how many got up and bore their testimony? If not, when was the last time? I challenge you all next month to get up and bear your testimony and truly see the light you will bring into the lives of others. I got up to bear my testimony and it was a true joy to see people like you and me who pass through trials, yet we lean on God and seek His guidance to feel hope again. As I bore my testimony of My Savior and My love for Him, it was a joy to see faces soften, shoulders lighten, families sit a little closer together, couples that forgive each other, parents who receive hope, youth who have a spark light up inside. It was a beautiful experience yesterday, after a rough week, to get up, share my testimony, see the need of hope on the face of all present, and feel the hope brought into their lives upon listening. Like Jacob said, the word of Christ is 'the word that heals the wounded soul,' la palabra que sana al alma herida. You can do so much good for those who surround you. Be worthy of your priesthood men, young men; be ready to use it wherever you are; share your testimonies, look to satisfy the needs of those around you and your joy will be full as is mine. In the mission I have learned that there is no time for me! Though I just want to talk about me and I'm so wonderful, in this life there is no time to worry about me. Look to lift, Seek to Serve and God shall take care of the rest for you and those you love.

In closing, it has been fun to get to know and see changes in the Lopez family. We ate lunch there last week, the husband is not a member. WAHOO! They went from problems in their home, hopeless without work, to more love, hope and optimism in seeking a new job and happier kids. What was the key? They began to pray as a family. Morning and night. Carlos is happy, he wants to get baptized. He will soon. The Gospel changes lives, that testimony is reassured DAILY in the mission and I simply pray that each of you see the blessings of doing so...not cause you see it in others, but rather cause you have them as a family.

Cristo vive, el es mi Salvador y me ama tanto. El les ama a ustedes también y solo pide que hagamos caso a Sus mandamientos. La única cosa que une a las familias y lo hace para siempre es hacer las cosas que nos hacen dignos de entrar en el Santo Templo y hacerlo! Amo orar, amo estudiar las escrituras, amo tener la guía del espíritu y amo ver los cambios en las vidas de los demás cuando reciben la motivación de alguien que les apoya. Sírvanse. Apóyense. Ámense.

Love you all!

Elder McGinn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Email - October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! How crazy how time flies right? It is just cooking! It sounds like you'll have fun with Halloween tonight, I sure do miss celebrations and holiday over in the US, Halloween is a 'do it if you want, but we'd rather NOT go through the effort' in Ecuador AND there is no way mothers would send children door to door here, just a wee bit sketchy.

I am NOT Trunky but the Lord sent me a message on Sunday. We were eating with the Members and had lasagna! Yum! But even better, I had apple pie for the first time since Mom sent it to me in the MTC. That was so good! I got thinking of home and how yummy that pie was when the sweet grandma got telling me of cancer she had in her ovaries and I just got 'tickle wrists' (mase and cam haha) and all feelings of sweet apple pie went out the window.

This week has been great! Full of ups and many downs, but the Lord always comes through with miracles. That has been one of the biggest lessons of my mission, you never know when, but if you are faithful the Lord will always come through. We were stoked to get baptisms up and going weekly here in November and no one came to church... we got hosed. It was rough BUT I told you all about Kayla Gomez, right? She said she'd rather go to another ward where her friends are instead of getting baptized, a tiny problem gone wrong. Well anyway, we ran into her last night and she had been thinking and wants to get baptized in the ward! She's happy to keep her other friends, but decided it was best to get it done with and be baptized, our baptismal goal for this week that fell through with church attendance got lifted again! We will talk to her parents tomorrow and see if this Saturday is alright with her baptism, but we are stoked! She also invited her cousin upstairs who accepted a baptismal date for the end of November!

We have seen a lot of ups and a lot of downs this week, that is the mission, but I grow stronger and stronger in my testimony of God's love for us and His encouragement on the way! I don't have much time, but I'd like to share a humbling experience I had on Tuesday night. We visited Luis and Lucía, references from our convert here a few weeks back. They listen and enjoy, but are really nervous and always reject the invitation to come to church. We have to teach them really simply, yet all works well. Tuesday we were talking about the Atonement of Christ and it was a sweet, powerful lesson. We asked them if they'd like to personally feel His love in their lives and they saw past the question and got all defensive in saying they would NOT get baptized. They jumped the gun on us haha. That IS where we were headed, just bit by bit ;). What Luis said next truly touched me. It seemed he got offended and said 'Elders, we have let you in our home, we listen, I am even trying to pray every single night like you told us to when I have never said a prayer in my life, nor felt that God existed or loved me. We do all you say, can't you simply be patient with us?' I was truly humbled in that moment, seeing a family who is just getting to know the Gospel, who truly want it and put in practice was is taught, simply fear big steps like going to church, marriage, and baptism. God loves all His children and I learned then that I need to love them all individually, push them, yet to their own resistance. All God`s children are different and it was sweet to see a family who knew or felt nothing about God 3 weeks ago are now seeing the sweet blessings of having family prayer morning and night.

I know it is a small story, yet my entire week was full of small, sweet experiences like that. God wants us to be obedient, He gave us Agency AND WILL GIVE US THE BLESSINGS as we use it correctly. We will see progress as we keep praying, or begin to do so. Keep reading, or begin to do so. Keep going to the church and temple, or begin to do so. Personally and as a family. God places the right people in our way, He places the perfect experiences during our day and we shall see and we shall rejoice as we simply obey.

I love you all! My time is up, sorry, Happy Halloween!

Elder McGinn

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Email - October 24, 2011

We had ward conference this past Sunday and I simply wanted to thank you for the family you are and for how faithful you are in the Gospel. Pres. Rodriguez talked about how the testimony of the children comes from the faith of their parents and that is so true and continues out here for me. Families are so important and so in need of hope out here.

Anyway... about me! Haha, I can't lie, it was really hard to see Elder Hasvold go. Goodbyes need to be done quick and the work must carry on. We had so much fun and I can't wait to keep in touch with him, a life- long friend there. My new companion is... Elder Gonzalez! He is from Nicaragua, is in his 21st month in the mission, and I'm training him to be a Zone Leader! We've got to make good friends BEFORE we hike the mountain today or he'll hate me too haha. I got to know him (like Elder Flores) when I first arrived in the mission in Portoviejo, it's fun to see old friends again. I'm nervous and excited to be with him and training!

Sunday was rough with the attendance at church, but we know where to go from here and November will be an awesome month! If all turns out well, we should be baptizing WEEKLY here in November! This giant mountain has been lifted and is moving! We are always looking for new people out here, that is the fun and tough thing of our mission in Ecuador, there are so many people who will listen BUT we want those who will act and progress. We literally fight to find those who are prepared and not simply those who will listen and feel happy. We are seeking the 'Chosen Vessels' as Moroni calls them and the Lord has put a few in our way!

I feel the need to share with you the simple joys that come in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we are visiting a lady named Erlinda and her son Alexander is also baptism age. It was so sweet as we passed by one day, she was on her way out, but she expressed how excited she was with the changes in her family... why? She and her son are reading the Book of Mormon together each night! She rereads it to understand, they are now praying as a family even though her husband won't, and she is excited to come to church. Whether you are a member or not, let us learn from this. She feels a change that is hard to describe (The Spirit more abundant) that is helping her overcome trials that seem too big to overcome (hope in the Gospel) and WHY... they have one, family scripture study from the Book of Mormon; two, they have personal study and strive to understand and apply what is read; three, they are praying as a family because they know what is best; and four, they are making sacrifices to be able to go to church (Make and Keep covenants that assure a Family Forever). I was touched in seeing how simply the Gospel changes lives and brings a new hope into the home. That is a promise for Members and Nonmembers for we are all under God's Radar.

The mission isn't easy, but neither is Salvation. The difference is maintaining the vision and the effort to be with God again. Christ suffered for ALL and loves us ALL but didn't simply die for us and say 'Go for it, good luck!' He left the scriptures, prayer, prophets, the church, the leaders there, family, priesthood, fasting, THE TEMPLE. Christ died for you and for me, He does say 'go for it, good luck WITH THE TOOLS I HAVE GIVEN YOU and we shall see each other soon.' There is no time to get down, there is no time to slack off either, simply time to secure our heavenly home and the hope in others that they may have the same.

'Dare to be a Mormon, Dare to stand alone, Dare to have a purpose firm, and Dare to make it known!'

I love you all so much! I haven't fallen since that one day, I'm still happy as ever, I may have lost weight, yet nothing stops ole Sasquatch from running! Love you all!

Elder McGinn

Monday, October 17, 2011

Email & Pictures - October 17, 2011

Me and Elder Hasvold sure have had a blast here and have even got down a sweet British Accent... in English AND in Spanish! We just pass time working and laughing. He has taught me a great lesson to work hard and to always be hopeful of the future. Here are a few pictures that I liked from Zone Leader Counsel... A bunch just got called from our group, like Elder Bushnell, and we snagged a picture with the Zone Leaders from our group. After the next change, January, I will be one of the oldest Zone Leaders... weird. Also, all the leaders wear their nice ties at Counsel... well we decided to wear our nastiest ones and we got a good laugh out of Pres. Amaya. There's a picture of Elder Hasvold and I with our nasty ties.

Well I told Mase I'd relate a crazy story about boogers, sickness and drool... here is my week...

So there was this lady with 3 little kids trying to drag a propane tank up to get it changed. We offered to help and ran it over. It was light, but with the gas it got pretty heavy to return. We took it back for her and joked the whole time about falling on the slopes with the tank. We get to the final slope before her house and Elder Hasvold took a big turf and the propane tank AND his companion on the other end came with him! I saved myself, like the tree cat I am, yet I was laughing so hard cause it was so funny that I about fell over and noticed a huge string of drool from my lips! Well that was really embarrassing... there went a nice contact opportunity.

Then at the end of the week there was this old lady with a deformed hand and walked with a nasty limp and cane. We offered to take her heavy bag and help her up home... turns out her home was a long way up. We got up to her house and I faced a huge culture shock as we saw a little coffin-shaped cart up on a rock with a table next to it. THAT was her house! She climbed that rock faster and better than we did haha, but what a house! She lives in this little bed on top of a rock, covered only by a tin roof. She lives off a piece of bread, an apple, and milk every day and 7 dogs. She was a little crazy as she showed us goose skulls and animal bones that she collects and so we got out of there quick. On the way down, after this old, gimp lady climbed that like a mountain goat, Elder McGinn took a big doozy and turfed it big time in dirt and gravel! That and a few other crazy experiences made that day just wonderful, let me tell you. The key is to simply enjoy life, laugh at yourself, and have fun the right way.

Let's end on a spiritual note... We had Zone Counsel and I was SO happy to find out that the 4 people we had been preparing for baptism in Manta got baptized as I took off! Oh what a great feeling to see the work progress in sectors or with companions that you've had. We've been trying to clean and raise a program here in this ward I'm in and things are getting cooking! We've found many new people to teach, seeking the chosen and prepared ones, and we should have one rocking month in November, hopefully we'll get this sector that hasn't baptized in months to be a Weekly Baptizing Ward... that's how it's looking now.

I want to share a sweet story about how the spirit truly guides those who listen and that God does so to touch each of His children individually. So we've been trying to get this ward up and running again and it's been tough. The other day we had no one at 11am yet the image of a member's house stuck in my companion's mind. He couldn't even remember their name, yet described where and we put them down. We had no clue why. When we got there the next day the family was surprised and let us in to share something with them, it was a struggle to get in, you could tell they were stressed. After conversing the mother finally asked 'So is there anything we can do for you Elders?' I said we felt the need to come share something with the family and she just broke into tears. The other day she had been upset with God and was even doubting their temple sealing and her activity in the church. She was simply pleading for an answer and we happened to show up. The hope we gave them, guided by the Spirit, was so uplifting and so beautiful! They committed to go to a sealing session together and remember WHY they got sealed years ago. She came to church AND invited us to lunch in this coming week. It was so beautiful to see how God guided us to His children in need through simply actions and how an eternal family has been given an extra push on their way. Do ALL you can to have the spirit and follow the smallest impressions! Do ALL you can to smile and be patient in your family relations for they will be eternal if you do your part here on earth! Keep the eternal perspective in mind, it is so beautiful and so worth whatever sacrifice or trial!

We've having a blast out here, it is the last P Day with Elder Hasvold, we enjoyed Subway today. He will be flying home on Tuesday, so I am about positive I'll have a new companion next week! 3 in one transfer! I love the Work, I love the Lord, I love you ALL.

Elder McGinn

Monday, October 10, 2011

Email & Pictures - October 10, 2011

Well Well Well... if it isn't Monday again!

I am doing great! It sounds like you all are too. I hope you get a feel for the sector I'm in as you see the pictures I sent! Time is flying by, my companion Elder Hasvold has 15 days left here in Ecuador! Haha and Mase I think I'll be joining you with the bald head soon... I don't know how bad it really is cause the lady that does my hair buzzed it down real nasty short.

Anyway... We had an awesome baptism this week! We finally got baptized the father of a family that Elder Escalante baptized (my comp in Manta) almost a year ago! He is awesome, had read the Book of Mormon once through, lives better than many members, he's the man. Simply lacked a few final touches to feel completely good. That's the first baptism our sector has had in almost 3 months, we're about to be up and running again!

We are simply having a blast out here with Elder Hasvold, it is so much fun. We are putting into play Plan Sputnik... yes I did come up with that name... and it has to do with Interchanges. We are sending Elder Hasvold to every sector in our zone before he goes to do interchanges. He takes the good companion to counsel him, motivate him, and help him work while I run the 'Bad Guy' up and down the nasty hill here haha. It is an evil plan, but it is working quite well! We've got an awesome Zone. Plan Sputnik in Action.

We've seen a few miracles and blessings in simple Gospel Principles. One comes with the man who was baptized. Cesar Choez and his family. He had to fix some things before his baptism and all is well, yet it was rough on his wife. We had a sweet lesson on repentance and forgiveness and it was hard for both of them. We committed them to forgive each other from now for the rest of their lives and there was an awkward silence for awhile, they never answered. So we finished with a prayer and asked the wife to give it, she gave the sweetest and most sincere prayer. She prayed for the help to be able to forgive her husband cause she couldn't find the strength to. There was such a sweet peace that filled the room, we were blown away and it was amazing to snag a picture of Cesar getting baptized with his arm around his wife in true, to-be-eternal love.

Forgiveness is hard, so is Repentance. It's hard for both sides, yet it is possible. Sometimes we cannot do it alone, many times actually. Yet as we turn to the Lord with our HEARTS set on where we want to become, though if may be tough to change our actions, God seems to be able to change hearts. I learned the beauty of repentance, forgiveness, prayer and seeing a family that is on their journey to an eternal home.

The second story comes from a family Ordeñez Wong. The husband was baptized years ago, but is inactive. His wife is not a member. They are in their 30's. Gonzalo has a brain tumor and was supposed to die 2 years ago, yet miraculously is still living. He works half days, it is a struggle, but it keeps him out of the house and his mind on better things. He has been tough on us, yet accepted our visits as long as we don't talk about the Book of Mormon. The first visit we got them to pray as a family and we saw miracles as he is more happy and optimistic. The next we talked about sealings and they got so happy and hopeful. Tonight we are to head back and tell them WHY with the message of the Restoration. He doesn't know why he's alive, he doesn't want to be alive. The wife now has a glimpse of what he felt years ago on being baptized and is beginning to see the true unity that comes in living the Gospel and praying together. There is nothing they can do to stop the time on Gonzalo's clock, but they can live every moment until then. They are opening their eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The way by which we will assure a family forever... no matter WHAT happens here on earth... as long as WE are faithful!

I love this Gospel, I love this Work. It has been hard, but it always helps to stop and count your blessings as Elder Richardson (our stake baby!) and Mason shared with me. We need more people to teach, we are almost opening and cleaning a sector, yet we are having a blast running up and down this hill. There is no better work than that of the Master.

I love you all!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Email - October 3, 2011

I LOVE CONFERENCE! That was absolutely awesome, and it's crazy to think that I have one left! I'm glad you all enjoyed it and it seems you are all happy! I was happy... why? I had awesome pictures of this crazy hill I'm on to send you, but my memory decided to quit working... it'll be next week it seems.

Well sorry, my head's a bit out of it for the heat, the internet cafe, my memory that's not working, and all we have to finish up doing today, but I'll try and get you all out an organized message today! We watched conference in the stake center in our own little English Room. There are 7 of the 14 elders in our Zone from the US, it is crazy! That never happens. I absolutely loved it, we had a few investigators there and should be having a baptism this weekend, we'll see how the interview turns out!

Thank you for your love and support, I am just having a ball with Elder Hasvold. I was intimidated at first, and still am haha, but we simply have fun. We work crazy hard, we get along really well, and the work is just flying. We are preparing for a few baptisms this month in a sector that hasn't baptized in almost 3 months. He is taking off on the 25th of October too.. so I'll have had 3 companions in this change . And Yes Dad, Pres Amaya likes to send the AP´s off to finish the mission working. I am taking advantage of every moment!

Conference was awesome, I learned a lot and was strengthened a lot. God does answer prayers when we seek the answers, they are all around us. There is no better work than what I am in right now and what you all do in your daily lives. I learned the importance of temple work, the importance of being strong and doing the things we know we should do to keep us strong in this ever changing world. I learned how to be bold, remember personal importance and the importance of working against our trials. My testimony was restrengthened on the importance and the beauty of life offered in following the Savior. He truly loves us, He knows who we are and what we can become. As we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall fulfill all of our wildest dreams AND His. I am so grateful for the family I have and what they have done to support me. I am grateful for the wonderful examples you all show of perseverance and hope, that is what life is! Being a good example and living off the ones you see around you. I am so happy in the work I am in, the trust God has for me and the love of His Son Jesus Christ.

We are working like crazy to see miracles here in 26 Febrero and the Zone Prosperina! If you wouldn't mind keeping Cesar Choez, Jorge Ana and Luis y Mirella in your prayers this week, they are in our plans and need whatever extra boost you can bring them to finally conquer their fears and accept the Savior as the Man and Brother we know Him to be. I love this Gospel, I love my chance to serve the Lord and simply strive to make the most of every moment! Keep a smile on your face, that is the best service you can do for yourself and those around you.

Sorry for the short letter and I know it is spacey haha, but I love you all and will hear from you soon! We are having a blast out here!

Elder McGinn

Monday, September 26, 2011

Email & Pictures - September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Mother! I'm glad you all enjoyed it, I'll be there for the next one! Sorry I don't have much time, but I sure do have some crazy news to share with you all.

The mountain is still big here, BUT I HAVE A NEW COMPANION. We had a crazy phone call last night and Elder Flores (there is a picture we took today together) is off in another Zone. Who is my new companion after simply two weeks?... The Ex Assistant Elder Hasvold from California! He finishes the mission in 4 weeks. He's the man and I'm not going to lie, I'm both excited and scared to death. We've already had time together with interchanges and he is awesome, BUT it's intimidating! Also I don't really know the sector or members all that well still... we are starting from scratch... completely. I'm stoked! Pray for us haha. Well we are looking for new people to teach, this hill is huge and I think I'm losing weight quickly. I'm nervous for the next few weeks but I loved what Mason told me a bit ago. Be optimistic, Optimism shows both your Faith and your Courage. We should have a successful month in our sector AND in our zone. We have a lot of potential and I'm stoked. There's a picture of a baptism that I sent... WE didn't have a baptism, but I did! I had one of the most sweetest experiences in my whole life on Friday.

We were in an interchange and there was a baptismal interview scheduled, BUT with a lady who is ready but changed her mind at the last second and doesn't want to be baptized. I was sent to find out why. AND if she didn't get baptizsed, neither would her grandma or her two oldest daughters... a lot on the line. She is a widowed mother of 5 at 28 years of age. She sat down across from me and simply began to tell me her life story, a lot of trust she had in me from the get go! But after a half hour of listening I asked her, 'So do you know why you're here?' 'Yes... I told the missionaries I wasn't going to be baptized and I'm here to tell you the same thing!' Okay... this'll be interesting haha. 'Let's start with a prayer' I told her. We got talking, we ran through some questions and she is so ready yet was simply scared of falling and has a poor family relation which scares her. We talked more than an hour. We read through the scriptures together, the spirit was so strong and I was guided en every moment. I was guided what to say, how to say it, I LOVE BAPTISMAL INTERVIEWS! At the end of the interview I didn't ask her to get baptized, we got on our knees and she humble and so beautifully surprised me. She conversed so beautifully with God to have the strength to continue with her desire to be baptized, I have hardly felt the spirit so strong. At the end of her prayer we stayed on our knees and I asked her to be baptized and her response was completely different from the beginning. She responded with hopeful, teary eyes by saying 'YES!' She asked me to baptize her and in the water after the baptism she thanked me for making her recognize the importance of this life changing moment for her. It was the most beautiful baptism I've ever seen, the spirit was so strong. She truly was chosen of God to not only change her life, but the life of many. Her name is Katherine.

Many of God's children (all) need him, yet many don't recognize it. We need to be good examples, yet we also need to be bold at times to be able to make them see it. The only way to happiness is repentance. Repentance is daily changing our course a little more in line with that of God's. Those blessed with this Gospel, let us live how we should and let us be bold enough to stand up for what we know brings eternal happiness. I hope to never forget that experience. The Gospel means happiness and YES it means change. We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves.

I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm still in Ecuador. I love this Gospel and know it is true. I am working so hard and am so sure that when we are worthy, the spirit will guide us in every thing we do! Yes we have our Agency, let us never put that aside, but the Spirit will always be a guiding friend who cheers us on our way. Be worthy of the Spirit. Recognize the blessings for living the Gospel. Be bold enough to let someone else know. Be a savior in their lives, we´re here to be like Him aren´t we?

Love you all!

Elder McGinn

Email - September 19, 2011

In the next package PLEASE send protein bars. Yes. Protein bars. I asked my companion, Elder Flores, how much of our sector was on the mountain, he simply kept quiet. I thought he didn't hear me, so I asked him again and he turned with a smile to tell me 'All of it Elder McGinn...' Then I asked him how much of the mountain was ours, cause there is another sector in our Zone called Mapasingue, and he smiled again wickedly '3/4 of it Elder McGinn...'

I took count to give you all an idea of what I am doing daily cause I have yet to take pictures... but with a little story before the statistics! An investigator told us that 30 years ago it was a simple mountain, no houses, yet people started to try and build homes there. The Police got ticked off and simply burned down the wood houses that were just built or in construction. One man finally got to keep his house after the 5th try! Well, with that idea, there is no organization here, houses wherever they will fit! There are no organized stairs, or if there are... they don't go up all the way. The best staircase we found that goes almost all the way up has 500 steps... we go up and down at least 3 times a day. In Manta I'd eat an awesome lunch and not have hunger till breakfast the next day! Here I eat a normal lunch and have killer hunger the next hour for going up and down the mountain so many times! I will be buying many bananas up on the hills and that is why protein bars would do the trick... if you wouldn't mind haha.

I won't lie though, I love the sector! It is tough leaving an old one, but as I was telling Jeff... the work isn't that much different. Why? The majority of the people moved here from Manta and it truly seems like I'm in a whole different world above the city. I feel like I'm in a constant Pack Peddle Paddle haha. It has been fun racing my companion up and down the stairs (I surprised him with the shape I'm still in as a limber tree cat). Anyway, you will be hearing more about this mountain weekly, but it is huge and I sweat a lot and I sleep really great now. Our Zone is on the uphill climb, we have 14 missionaries and 10 of them have less than a year in the mission! Of those 10... 9 have less than 3 months! We're excited to get this zone flying with a lot of fresh blood.

Well I suppose I should leave you with something spiritual, not just gruesome hikes and jumbles and ingrown toenails that came AND went away with all my climbing (yes it is true mother). We truly have seen miracles this week. I try so hard to make up to the Lord all He has done for me, and yet He seems to one-up me every time! I work harder, He gives another miracle. It's a nasty joke haha.

But anyway, I simply want to leave you all with the confirmation that God exists and does love us. He does place the faithful in perfect situations to touch those in need. We went to visit a family I have yet to meet, they weren't home when we went and haven't been the entire week. But anyway, on arriving we spoke with a cousin who my companion knew, but had never spoken with. I was out of the conversation, on the ledge of a cliff actually haha, but had the strongest impression to speak with him, to make the most of the moment. My companion thanked him for the information and was ready to leave, and the Spirit jumped on my ingrown toenail or something cause I almost yelled to ask him if we could talk with him some 10 minutes. His name is Dave, he is 12 years old. His parents abandoned him, one passed away years ago. He had always been interested in the things of God and he accepted a baptismal date in October. The sweetest thing was in the next visit. In talking of the Restoration I was prompted to ask a strange question... how would he feel to be able to hug his mother again, who passed away 10 years ago? Upon asking the question, he waited, and waited, then broke into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. That was his biggest desire and felt completely filled with hope in listening to us. He accepted the message of the Restoration of the principles and ordinances that will take him back to his mother again. He came to church the next day, warned us he could only stay 2 hours, yet stayed all 3 happily. He was a chosen of God who needed to feel God's love. God touched us to make the most of the moment and the miracle was seen immediately. That has happened on 2 other occasions this past week.

Don't EVER hold back an impression. Don't EVER shy away from being direct, from speaking of the Gospel, from promising blessings of an eternity. God will guide the diligent and the obedient to those who need Him. Speak of baptism, speak of the blessings from having the Holy Ghost in your life, speak of the beauty of temple ordinances that will keep your family together forever. That is the Gospel, and though it may not seem like it, that is what we all need (members or not) to fill the emptiness that can't seem to leave us be.

God loves you, He loves me. This is His work and it will go forth. I have decided to help Him push and I won't ever stop, slacken or stifle. Christ is your Savior, go to Him, He shall not move, His Gospel is Happiness that lasts. Let us live it.

Love you Some! (not all...)

Elder McGinn

Monday, September 12, 2011

Email - September 12, 2011

Well, before telling you whether I'm on the beach as a lazy cat or if I've been ventured off to some other part of Ecuador... Mother, I DID enjoy that frosting! I ate the whole container in one sitting Sunday night waiting for transfers! Mmm... Doggy!

In our mission we baptize about 150-200 each month and that covers 13 stakes, the work is crazy yet can improve a ton! That is what I love about working out here, the Gospel is growing yet has so much room to keep getting better. Well, I'm glad you're all well, I know you don't want to hear me talk about you, I know you want to know if I'm in Manta still, so I guess I'll fill you in and quit dragging out my precious time. Haha BUT before starting, cause Dad got me thinking with his comment on my comment... The other missionaries have NOT been able to make contact with Marco Polo yet hahaha.

Well, this week was simply awesome and I can tell you that I couldn't have FINISHED my ONE YEAR on the beach any way better. After a year of fish, shrimp, squid, octopus, clam, shark and STING RAY I guess I do need to get changed, right? I am now writing you from Guayaquil! And boy will I be in great shape after my time in this sector, my ward is called 26 of February and has a nasty mountain called Mapasingue (Ma-pa-sing-ee). It is this huge mountain that stretches up forever, not of trees and dirt roads... of houses! You will get pictures soon and all have told me that the little gut I've gained in living on the beach will go really quickly.

I'm in the Zone with Elder Bushnell again; that'll be fun. My companion is from Guatamala. His name is Elder Flores, he lacks 2 changes in the mission. I knew him before, all my companion Zone Leaders have been my leaders sometime before. Elder Escalante (ZL) Elder Franco (ZL) Elder Flores (DL) haha, but we will have a great time here in Guayaquil.

As for my week, it was awesome! I feel very happy in saying that I left Manta better than when I found it. It is getting much better than it was and that zone should baptize quite a bit these next few months. Oh! And EVERYONE CHECK OUT THE LIAHONA from September. Why? There is a little story from Ecuador about the ship 'Comfort' that came from the US and gave free health exams and surgeries. THAT is the boat I worked on and there is a picture of a few of the set apart missionaries that stayed on their 5 month tour. That was cool to see.

I am bummed to leave Manta for the baptisms we'll have the next two weeks, they are simply awesome! We have seen miracles and I would like to touch a bit on what Ashley sent me on Planting Seeds. 4 ish months ago with Elder Escalante, we passed by the mother of a recent convert. She had cancer and was very very ill. She didn't want anything to do with us either, simply thanked us for passing by and showed us the door. She wasn't supposed to live. I passed by once more with Elder Escalante and she wasn't any better. One month ago I passed by again with Elder Franco cause a prompting had been on my mind for weeks to go back and see her. Finally I heeded that prompting. She let us in and was 100% better! In place of her bald head and cap with a frail body and shaky voice, she greeted us with a warm smile, a head of gray hair, and a lot of strength in that body of hers! In listening to us, she told us 'thanks, but no thanks, I'm catholic.' I wondered why we had passed by to see her that day, yet we still happily invited her to church that Sunday. She surprised us in showing up with her son! She had to leave early but left as happy as ever! In visiting her the next day she had read a part of the Book of Mormon and surprised us by saying 'Yes Elders, I will be baptized the 24th of September! The church is true and I feel something inside me that simply says Do it, Do it, Do it Fanny.' Not only had missionaries tried earlier with the baptism of her son almost a year ago, BUT we found out that her father listened to the missionaries years ago and she enjoyed listening, yet never saw them again. She is an awesome investigator, she ponders the scriptures, rereads until she understands, with very little teaching on our part she has received personal revelation and will be baptized! I am grateful for those who planted seeds in Fanny Palma and it made me see the work I do daily from a different perspective.

Another case is crazy too! When I was called District Leader 6 months ago, I interviewed a lady Lorena Garcia and she was baptized; and in fact, with transfers I got to see her baptism too! Her husband is a fisherman and told her to wait on her baptism till he returned but she had the strongest testimony and did it anyway! He doesn't know she ever got baptized. He came a month ago to Stake Conference... hung over, we visited him the next day and said the church was so boring yet Lorena dragged him to church the next week too! He has come 3 times in a row and what a change he has made! He doesn't say his prayers, but he does get on his knees beside his wife as she prays and in 3 simple weeks he has lost the urge to get drunk. We visited him Saturday night and we didn't go with intentions of setting a baptismal date with him, yet I had the strongest impression to do so near the end of our visit. (lesson to all... follow your impressions!) I went for it and he surprised me by yelling WHAT?! 'Ah nuts... what have I done?' I got thinking ah crap. Yet I went again with the invitation and he accepted the goal IF we visit him more. Haha how easy! Of course we will! That surprised his wife and they are happily working towards a baptism the 24th of September and a temple sealing. We left them a copy of the Liahona and they both happened to read the same story, yet apart, and both shared desires of a temple sealing.

This whole week has been a week of miracles, those have been simply two of the many miracles I saw during the week and during my time with Elder Franco. Miracles happen, God wants us to be a part of them! T HAT is why He prompts us with the Holy Ghost, to do something for someone that they cannot do for themselves, yet is just what they need. The work is so simply, yet tough. It is demanding, yet the key is the spirit. That is a key for life, that is the key for a future missionary, that is my struggle each day - do all you can to deserve and then follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I love you all and am excited for the new adventure in Guayaquil!

TTFN, Ta Ta for Now

Elder McGinn