Monday, January 24, 2011

Email & Pictures - January 24, 2011

Alright! Well here's a tale that you will all believe and Mom will shake her head thinking 'you idiot son...' So Monday we went to the Mamita's house (her husband and daughter are in pictures I've sent) and we cooked corviche! It's a banana fish... deep fried platanos with fish in the middle. I love it. My companion wasn't and still isn't feeling to well, so he didn't eat really anything. The Mamita's kids don't care for Corviche all that much either, and just my luck a normal batch makes 30ish 'fingers.' Elder McGinn ate probably 25 and woke up the next morning with a few trips and then a permanent stay in the bathroom! Haha I threw up a few times, but all is great now. My companion got sick earlier in the week and we spent all of Tuesday in the house, he's doing pretty well now, but still mas o menos.

That night we had the baptism of Hno Jipson Mendoza! He's next to me in the picture and that was great to see happen. He has many friends in the church and the building was filled with buddies to see him enter the straight and narrow path! AND get this... he turned us down months ago with the idea of getting baptized and having to serve a mission and now he's talking excitedly about getting out and serving!

This week was pretty slow, but I truly came to know of the Lord's tender mercies that are like beckoning calls to repent and turn around, it just depends on our faith and humility. I want to share two stories.

My companion is Elder Molina, there is a non active family Molina Oña and we passed by for his first time this Saturday. The family is always great and nice, but just lack something oh-so-small to return to the church, they took off just 6 months ago. While outside under the trees, us in chairs and them in their hammocks, we cut to the chase, but with love, as to why they quit coming to church. Ernesto Molina told us about work and how really he just lacks the faith to keep the Sabbath Day opposed to working on the most prosperous day of the week. We shared a great scripture in Alma 58 about just how prosperous the people were, worldly and spiritually, by keeping the commandments and simply gave him the choice: prosper or no. We asked what we could do to help their faith grow and he quickly and sincerely said 'VISIT US!' He said that seeing him at the church the next day was a maybe, but just about brought tears to my eyes as he came around the corner, shook my hand, and then wrapped me in a huge hug and thanked me for the miracle we were yesterday. What a joy to see the members quickly invite, visit, love, sit, make them feel at home again.

Yeah we didn't have many investigators this week, but we brought a lost herd back to their Shepard. We can learn a lot from this, love, service, faith, but what I want to convey most of all is the daily decisions we make. We want a life eternal, of course we do! But do we make the choices that lead us there? We obviously don't want a life of misery in a Kingdom lower than Celestial, but how often do we opt for the easier choice, the quicker one, the one that could very well bring happiness, but not joy. Keep the commandments, maintain the influence of the Spirit, love your fellow man and accept him for who he is - don't accuse him for who he isn't.

To finish up, I was greatly humbled this Sunday. A lady who has a struggling family simply comes for sacrament meeting. She got up right after the sacrament and Elder McGinn thought 'great, there she goes. Why can't you just stick around at least till the end of the hour?' Then came a great lesson from the Lord. An elder came running over to us and we quickly followed his call to give a blessing of health. We entered the bishop's office to find the lady I had so quickly judged in tears, holding her left arm. She told us her health issues and how she even considered staying home for the day, but couldn't miss the Sacrament. We gladly gave her a blessing and she thanked us so dearly for the miracle we had been in that moment.

Let's learn a few lessons here. Go when we're called, don't ask why. Live worthy always to be able to accept those emergencies. Never let a bad, diminishing, or criticizing thought enter your heart and if you do, hope for a humbling experience to teach you the lesson of Charity. I love the work, I hope this letter for the week has touched you, I hope you know I'm doing so well and am so happy here in Ecuador.

Sometimes life doesn't go as we thought, but let's do all things with diligence, wisdom, and worrying if we're giving heed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is happy when we try, do we truly try or do we simply pass the days by?

I sure love you all and sé sin ninguna duda en mi corazón que Cristo vive, que nos ama, que nos dio EL CAMINO (no hay otro) para regresar. Sabemos el camino, ayudemos a los demás que no lo conocen o tal vez están andando errantes en un mundo de tinieblas. ( I know without any doubt in my heart Christ lives, who loves us, who gave us THE WAY (no other) to return. We know the way, we help others who do not know or maybe you are wandering about in a world of darkness.)

This week'll be awesome, we should have baptized this Saturday, Erica Garcia. Pray for her and pray for the hearts of the people in Ecuador. Now I've talked too much haha, but TTFN, ta ta for now!

Elder McGinn

Monday, January 17, 2011

Email & Pictures - January 17, 2011

The first few English phrases that Elder Molina knows... 'The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life is sweet lovin'!' and 'heads or tails? It's your choice.' We flip a coin to say the prayers haha. To be dead honest with you all, I have never had such a fun week in the entire mission. We have had a BALL this whole week.

To give a quick run down and then get to why it's been such a blast, Jipson is going to be baptized this Tuesday with a few others on the way. The most hopeful is Erica Garcia who is 16, she comes to church with her mom and wants to be baptized, just wants to feel more secure. She's reading el Libro de Mormón and always has lots of questions for us. We also have a 15 yr old Rubén who told us 'I love it when you guys come and teach me, when does your church meet?' and he came the next day right before his meeting at 10:30. The whole fam is listening to us and really interested. They live on the grounds of a Catholic Church and it's funny every time the Pastors open the gates to let the Mormon Missionaries enter and teach.

This whole entire week can be summed up in Saturday and I want all of you to read, feel, and act on the miracle of following the slightest impressions of the Spirit; we constantly receive, but do we constantly react? We tried that this week and I can tell you that this week has been the best ever.

We left lunch Saturday afternoon and a man invited us to sit down and have a drink. So we sat down and offered him a folleto of the Word of Wisdom. We straight up asked him why he drinks and Luis told us that it clears the stress in his life. We promised him the peace and assurance in life if he'd listen to our message and read the folleto. He even was about to toss out the beer he was drinking until a friend came and asked for some haha. Then he 'pulled a fast one' that made me realize that everything is in perfect harmony with the Lord. He asked me what Nebekenezar's (?) dream meant in the Bible with the great man of many materials and the big boulder. We boldly testified of the Restored Gospel, that God truly governs and blesses all, and the coincidence of Daniel who interpreted the dream by keeping what? THE WORD OF WISDOM! He offered us a drink, we offered a sip of the Living Waters.

We carried on our way and an old man called out to us in English. I said hello back as we passed. He called out again and we both stopped dead in our tracks and returned to another unplanned opportunity. I had my first (and probably last haha) contact in English, it was weird but so fun. Robert is having surgery this week. He lived in Florida for quite some time, studying in FIU. We simply sat on a street bench, ate peanuts, and blessed his life with a touch of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. We're meeting up with him Wednesday after his surgery.

In heading to our first planned appointment, a man named Boris sitting on a scooter called out Eeeelders!' like everyone else does here haha, but we decided to stop and see what the fuss was. He had lots of simply questions, why we're called Elder, how long we're here, where we're from, what we teach. He opened up and told us he wants to change. We had a folleto of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and told him that Christ loves us so much, he put Repentance into the way to Eternal Life or... Change. He was touched and he and his wife gladly gave us their numbers to return and get to know them.

In one day we had 3 miracles that were not planned. That happened the entire week... 11 contacts just like that. We really changed the work for good. Yeah we have plans and appointments, but are we going to fill time or do we really stop to the people who yell out to us? Intentionally or not? The Lord puts people in our path, we took advantage of every single person that called us out (and maybe the people will stop calling out haha) but to the sheep who called the servants of the Shepherd, they truly felt a taste of the security and hope the Shepherd has in store.

We have a week full of work, a week full of fun, and I am SO glad that Elder Molina and I changed the work. People call, do we listen? If we hear, do we act? If only we would act, we would feel the love of the Lord assure us that we truly are called of Him to do just as He would. Sometimes we have 99 sheep in our agenda, in our daily plan, but how often do we pass by the one that even calls out to us? Read 2 Nephi 32. Don't doubt in your heart, don't stress out your mind, just worry to have the Spirit's influence in your life by reading the scriptures and praying always.

This is my testimony, this is my week. I wouldn't change this decision for anything in the world for the Lord truly blesses those that press forward in Faith and Hope. I have seen this change, I have felt His love, and I only wish that I were an angel and could change the entire world.
¡Les amo a todos!

Elder McGinn

And the pictures... so I was getting ready to Crunchatize myself when I bumped the bowl I had JUST put milk in. There went my cereal, but not my breakfast! Hence me eating out of the sink haha. And how do you like those huge carrots?!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Email & Pictures - January 10, 2011

What a week! So first things first... what a ride me and Elder Van Wagoner had in Guayaquil for 2 days haha. As mom saw... we did enjoy an ice cream. That P Day we just wandered and explored in our free time, we made the most out of a Gringo Companionship in a huge South American City haha. Then we came down to our last moments together as our companions flew in... I was nervous, not going to lie, more than anything with the language and responsibility but loved what an Elder Peña told us in the Office. 'If you're nervous, how's your companion going to feel?'

I've taken this opportunity to really trust in the Lord. If He trusts me enough to give me this assignment, why not lean on Him too? I truly have seen the Lord's hand in every aspect of the work. I need a bit more patience, but me and Elder Molina from Honduras are really enjoying this companionship! He is brand new, a bit homesick, but doing my best to keep him upbeat and participating in the work. With Elder Añorga... he knew the area, fluent in Spanish, had almost a year in the field and did a lot. He was really out going and when he took off I really felt nervous with my ability to relate with the people here, but the promises in D&C 11 and 84 really come to pass. You just study, you just trust, you just try. The words come, the love fills your heart, and you just get this excitement to talk with everyone!

Our area is okay, we don't have too many investigators, we're seeking lots of references and contacting and it really is an opportunity to grow. Proverbs 3:5-6 really has come to pass in this one week. Elder Molina is bold, he says what's on his mind and will be a great missionary. His shoes are terrible and I feel bad cause that's the ONLY fault in his clothes, shoes that really aren't comfortable. He walks real slow haha, but we're working, testifying, and having a ball. I can't describe the love I feel from the Lord and I'm sorry, if I tried I'd just ramble forever in this email!

In visiting, whether it's members or first time contacts, I just open my heart (that is the key) and when you go to open your mouth you don't even talk Spanish, you don't stress the doctrine, the words come fluidly and perfectly as you simply show them a true desire for their eternal happiness by applying the beauty of the gospel to their lives. I can't be happier.

We have a baptism planned for the 18 of January and oh how excited I am! His name is Jipson Mendoza, the boyfriend of a member (he's in one of the photos I sent). We've been teaching him since before I arrived and is an investigator that I will describe with one experience. I testified to him months ago with a real mean scripture in Alma 5 cause he told us he's 'done it all' in the church and just doesn't feel accepted. He's been to church, goes to institute, knows the members, really is quite involved, but doesn't feel 'called' (is the word he used). I felt real inspired and a scripture from Alma 5 dug deep into his heart that says 'The Shepherd is calling you and HAS been calling you, but YOU don't want to listen.' Wow. We ended that lesson months ago with him telling us 'when I'm ready I'll come find you guys, take it easy for now.' Well he sure is ready, he came to us saying 'tell me what I need to do to be baptized.' We told him all he has to do and it really is just a miracle.

Hno. Jipson really is testimony to me of the impact of the members, the timing of the Lord, and baptizing those that really, truly want and understand it.

This week has been like me, squished into a pizza roll, stuck in a blizzard that's taking place in a microwave. But the Lord placed me there and could not be happier. Pray for the people, pray for Elder Molina, pray to know what YOU can do to help the Elders in your area. The Lord calls us, the only fear we need to have is whether or not we act in our calling, cause if the Lord wants it done, it will be done. Let it be you!

Here comes week 2 with Elder Molina and Trainer McGinn... I love you all! Till next time!

Elder McGinn

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011 - Email

And for the news you've been waiting for... My emotions sky rocketed and like 'what goes up, must come down,' shot right back down too haha. We got a phone call last night, 'Elder McGinn... you need to be in Guayaquil tomorrow at 9am.' ALRIGHT I'm changing! '... And bring 2 changes of clothes, you will be back in your sector Wednesday.' Nuts.

Elder Añorga is off, but his new companion is Elder Bushnell! Haha, and what will Griffin be doing these 2 days in Guayaquil. I'm really nervous, but excited for the opportunity that awaits - I am receiving training. I am going to be training a new missionary! My first change and I am a trainer. I'm overwhelmed and feeling inadequate, but filled with the love of the Lord for his trust in my with one of his entrusted servants. My companion for the next few days is Elder Van Wagoner from my MTC group! He is the Elder that reminds me of Justin Nickle and we just laugh our heads off the whole time.

I'm really excited to see how the next few days go and please pray for me! I have a whole rush of emotion right now and really just feel such a love and confidence that the Lord has for me. I love what President Gamboa wrote me, it's not a matter of skill... it is a matter of Worthiness, Diligence, and Obedience. What a ride for Elder McGinn! I'll meet my companion tomorrow. It was fun to meet up with old guys from the MTC Group, what changes have come about and what joy to see that my brethren are still my brethren in the Lord.

As for this week, we had 3 baptisms! Children of 9, 11, and 11 years old from the same family. Two siblings and a cousin were baptized and they really are great. They are related to Hno Xavier, who took out his earing, and he is a sad tale. Their whole family is real rough. A few Jehovah's Witnesses, a few Catholics, a lot of alcohol and bad influence. Xavier was progressing really well but pulled us aside and told us that even more trouble has come about in the home ever since he started listening to us. He backed out, which was real hard, but his relatives that we baptized really are great. Their father is a Taxi Man, he came to the baptism and when he picked them up from Church yesterday asked us 'When is my baptism?'

We've been blessed with a few people that have member connections (a few girlfriends, boyfriends, or neighbors) that little by little have start to open up to the gospel and we can really bloom with converts this next change! The Lord truly works in mysterious ways, but I trust Him in every moment!

To finish up I'd like to share with you something that truly touched my heart. We made goals with the family of our Mamita in a FHE for the year 2011. I read a goal of an 11 year old girl that said 'Be an Eternal Family,' and that thought hit me deeply. The family can be eternal, but let's make it a goal to BE that eternal family here and now! We really can be together forever, and we should be, but we do that here and now in our time on earth. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to get across, I get all excited and type my brains out haha, but don't hope to be an eternal family, BE that eternal family NOW so that when the time comes, you fit right into the heavens perfectly and comfortably.

Take the advice from President Eyring to keep the Holy Ghost with you. 1-NEVER miss the Sacrament, repent. 2-Truly Pray, don't simply 'order.' and 3-don't read or study the scriptures. PONDER them daily.

I love you all. I KNOW the church is true and would not change this opportunity for the world. The Lord works in strange ways, but his ways are always just and always perfect. This next change will be a matter of trusting what the Lord has called me to be. Pray for me, pray for my companion, but most of all, Thank the Lord for every moment of your life. He loves you all, He wants the best and He knows the best. Take a moment of your prayers to simply listen, see if He'll start the conversation first! I know He will, I know He loves you. He sent His Son to show the way that you can really be happy every single day of your life. Be an Eternal Family now.

Les amo mucho, y todavía estoy limbering como un gato del arbol! (I love you and I'm still limbering the tree like a cat!)

Elder McGinn