Monday, February 21, 2011

Email & Pictures - February 21, 2011

I seem to have found myself in the Jungle. Here in Vinces we are allowed to do everything that the mission does not let you do. We ride motorcycles out to the distant parts of the field and jungle. We stand shoulder to shoulder... stand... in the back of trucks going who knows how fast out to other distant parts of the field and jungle. There are Cocoa Beans the size of Rugby Balls, not even joking. We live by a river that winds and twists like a lazy anaconda. I absolutely love the adventure we're having out here! Oh yeah, and I took a spoonful of sauce to add with my rice and I uncovered a fish's eye. He winked at me I think, that threw me for a loop haha. Now I'm a real tree cat, river rat, and the surprises keep coming!

We have a boy named Nephi in our Branch and he is in a state of apostasy, which is kind of ironic if you ask me, he's got a neighbor named Moroni also, haha.

I have never been happier and more aware of the Lord's hands in my life. It has been a pleasure working with Elder Salas and I am really learning the virtues of Charity, Patience, and pure obedience by example. The key to life is wanting to be obedient and having the charity and patience to set the example for those who don't enjoy quite what you do. We have our ups, we have our downs, but I was touched to get a hug and hear 'thanks for being my companion, it's fun to work with you.' I lack a ton, but we have progress.

In our little branch a good day of attendance at church is 80, the other branch is 40. We are working together (the 4 missionaries) to change this district for the better and it's been a blast. We're getting to know the members, the investigators, and we should have 6 baptisms by the end of this transfer, but please pray for them.

I want to finish up with a few stories that have really changed me for the better out here. The question isn't why we came on the mission or why we are members? It is why we stay in the mission, why we still are members? Why do we keep the commandments? Cause (from my standpoint) any missionary can serve, any missionary can be obedient, any missionary can study, any missionary can pray. It's different to really lose yourself in the work. It's way different to look and love to be obedient. It's much different to analyze the scriptures to see to the needs of those you seek. It's a mile apart to really converse and accept the counsel the Lord has ready for us. I've been blessed with an Elder Elliot from Texas here, he really has taught me to meditate, to do the little things, to simply be an example of love.

I lack so much, but was touched by the help of the Lord during a nasty bible bash. Two elders got into a bible bash that really killed the spirit, I felt it leave the room as it began in the house of members. This is the only time I will thank the Lord for allergies haha, my right eye freaked out and I had to get that fixed up, taking me away from the situation that I was too chicken to stop. Nothing more needs to be said. You never bring people down, you never bible bash, you never bash with your Mission Manual, you never bash with opinions. You simply live a life similar to the Savior. Set an example and others will see it. Many will follow, many will not, but those that follow will be saved on high with you. You walk a half hour, even if you'll be late to the house, instead of paying 50 cents for a ride on Sunday Night. You simply testify when guided by the Spirit. You simply hold your tongue but you NEVER hold your faith. That is your defense. You don't attack, but you don't back down either. You be the one to stand aright, even when you stand alone, as said our great prophet, Pres. Monson. I've fallen too much in the little things to do it again, I've seen the hand of the Lord too much in the gift of forgiveness to turn away.

I stay in the mission and I strive to repent each day because I feel like Jacob with Sherem in Jacob 7:5. There's simply too much in my life to deny the existence and help of a loving Father in Heaven. Be an example of the believers. Examples shine... in other words, turn on your flashlight and let others see. Be an example, Live the Gospel, knowing it does nothing if you don't apply it. See how much the Lord has blessed you and simply love every waking moment of this short life we've been given.

I love you all so much and can't be happier for the mountains the Lord has given me to climb, cause the higher I climb, the closer I am to Him. 'Then Work and Watch and Fight and Pray, the fight with sin is real... put your shoulder to the wheel.' I love the Lord, I love the work, I love the help I receive daily and hope you all feel and do the same. Thanks for being the family and friends worth serving, now go and serve the Lord.

Elder McGinn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Email - February 14, 2011

I sure love you all and sorry it's a bit shorter this week, but I'm so excited for you all and for Cohen! Hope your Valentine's is just awesome cause mine is IN A NEW AREA. I am in a little town called Vinces, in the Province Los Ríos. It's 3 hours out from Guayaquil and really is exactly what I was told: 'a little village in the middle of nowhere.' Elder Salas and I are opening a new area, we have a tiny branch and we're right on the riverside, it's so pretty! It rains a ton, lots of bugs, and a lot of ground to cover. Elder Molina stayed put and this morning at 4am we took off to Guayaquil. All I can say is I'm really excited and please pray for this companionship.

The Lord gives us hurdles, why? So we can attack them, we can soar over them, and we can keep running with the confidence to attack the next one you know is coming. The Lord knows we will succeed, if we simply trust in Him.

My companion's great so far, he walks way fast and I'm really praying for the confidence in the Spirit and my loyalty to the Lord in this change. The good thing is President trusts me, I felt really great to hear that from his assistants. The Lord trusts me, and what a fun 6 weeks I have ahead of me!

This past week with Elder Molina was a great one ,I really am sad to leave the investigators I'm leaving. I want to tell you of two miracles that I hope are seen through and that I get word back on. One starts 10 years ago. A man named Jorge Perero went to New York to work as a painter and bring back enough money to help the fam. While in New York some sister missionaries ran into him and began to teach him, but didn't go too far. Talk about planting seeds. Four weeks ago Elder Molina and I were walking down the road and my shirt got caught and ripped on a fence, from behind we heard in pure English 'Hey Mister! Watch it next time!' He about caught me off my tiger toes with that one, we turned around and got to know a man named Jorge Perero, but he prefers 'George' haha. He told us to stop by his house some time and that was about it. We searched and searched in the following weeks but nothing until Thursday. He was walking home from work up ahead of us and we called him out. He about broke into tears of joy with a huge laugh and grin as he yelled 'My Misters!' He took us directly to his house saying how he'd been hoping to find us, how we'd never come by his place. We listened to his life story for an hour, The family, work, New York (and even listened to some sweet jazz tunes, haha) and he simply begged us to come by and help him change. It truly was a miracle and can't tell you how excited I am and yet sad for leaving George Perero. Elder Molina meets with him tonight and I hope to hear this miracle continue with a baptism, temple covenants, and a congratulations in the Celestial Kingdom.

The other story is on the importance of following the Spirit, even if you've left the appointment. Elder Molina and I went to some former investigators who really were in a time of need. A brother and sister in college and high school that are really seeking change. It was an awesome appointment, burning with the Spirit, burning with desires, I really felt like Elder Molina and i simply sat back as the Spirit took the show! Then the punch line, we're not going to waste any more time with them and introduced the Book of Mormon. To put a damper on the story, the boy said 'I'll be honest, I'm not going to read that book.' The girl said 'mmm... maybe.' I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart and was NOT going to take 'no' or 'maybe' as reasons to give them this grand treasure we possess. Maybe that was simply Griffin being angry, not Elder McGinn succumbing to the Spirit. We left with an appointment for the following week and the book in our hands. Elder Molina told me that the lesson was good but lacked something... we still had the book in our hands. That sunk deep into my heart and after a few more paces I stepped dead in my tracks and said 'let's go back, come on!' He laughed, but when he saw I was out of sight, came running to catch up haha. We said a prayer to guide our words, caught the girl with a surprise at our return, and promised her the changes in her life if she's simply read Helaman 5. We even said that the next week we'd take the book back if she's not going to use it. The spirit guides us at all times! Yes we want it, but will we follow it? Even when we're a few blocks away, leaving?

Besides a few families and 6 months in Los Olivos, those two families really hurt to leave and I sure pray that the Lord will continue to work miracles in their lives as He has with so many of is children.

I can't tell you how happy I am out here in Ecuador, even when a bird pooped a big one on my shirt this week. Every moment is to be enjoyed as we learn in 2 Nephi 2:25... but it depends on us, in verse 27. We're supposed to act, we're supposed to make our destiny, we're supposed to enjoy it too. Follow the Spirit, take advantage of the unplanned moments that God places in front of you. Pray for the people here in Vinces, neither of us know the area, we don't know each other, we're in for a ride.

Amo la obra y sé SIN DUDA que no hay mayor felicidad que la que es obtenido en el servicio del Señor. Cambien sus oraciones y oren no para los misioneros o investigadores sino que oren a fin de que ustedes reconozcan SUS oportunidades de servir con los ángeles, los apóstoles y todos los santos que buscan la salvacion. (I love the work and know without doubt that there is no greater happiness than is obtained in the Lord's service. Change your prayers and pray for missionaries or not researchers but to pray so that you recognize their opportunities to serve with the angels, the apostles and all the saints who seek salvation.)

Happy Valentines Day from Vinces and I love you all!

Elder McGinn

Monday, February 7, 2011

Email - February 7, 2011

What a week this has been, we flourished with appointments and numbers. Now the week ahead of us needs to change the numbers and appointments to consistency and souls. When you simply work in the ways the Lord provides, you flourish. We had NO ONE to teach the last week, so we sought the help of the members by asking references. In the past two weeks we've had close to 30 references, we just have to keep working, keep loving, and change these references into Progressing Investigators.

A testimony of mine that if we simply trust in the Lord, we never stop pushing, He really will make everything okay! He molds us with our faith, but faith isn't words, faith is action.
We've got one amazing investigator with a sad tale. Líjia Mieles has a brother serving a mission in Quito and is interested in the gospel. She has really been progressing and even though it brings my stomach happiness too, it really shows just how interested she is by providing a meal with every visit! She even came to us and said 'Elders... I was talking to my brother and he was really excited for my desires to be baptized BUT... he said I have to get married.' Now we have our problem. She's not married, her 'husband' does not want marriage right now. It is 'something to consider,' But little by little we are helping them on their way. It is really hard when one wants and the other doesn't, and as missionaries we can't do a thing. Pray for her husband, Marcos, but I'm sure all will work out for the better.

I don't have much time, but want to end with one more story. I was absolutely blown away with a tender mercy of the Lord this week. We got a 13 year old Deacon to come with us for a few hours one day. His family is less active and he's a rougher kid, but wow. We visited 3 families and he got to give a simple, nervous, yet powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, Eternal Life, and the Priesthood. What touched me more than anything was when we visited a 12 year old investigator who is really doing well. We asked Abel (the deacon with us) to share how he feels to be trusted with the Priesthood and he gave such a sweet testimony. As we left the lesson I heard him say to himself 'I want to be a missionary!'

I'm sorry that I don't have any time, but I was really touched this week by simply taking a deacon with us and being blown away by the love of the Lord and to recognize the great work we truly do out here. I love the work, I love you all, I KNOW that families are eternal and that in the temple we don't simply do work for the dead, but we can really connect with our loved ones who have passed on. I don't want to be anywhere else. Every day is the best day in the world cause you learn to let the Lord guide you through each curveball.

I love you, I will hear from you soon, and I hope to be an uncle by the next email!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Email - January 31, 2011

Well do I ever have to tell you about worlds colliding and the biggest temptation in the WORLD!

We ran to visit a less active family that just lost their father/husband the other month. We got talking about this man's job, he works with satellite, with ESPN, FOX, all of it, and got talking about sports. THEN he stopped... turned to me... and said 'Wait a minute, you're from Utah right? Isn't there a school of Mormons?' Yeah, BYU... why? Then Elder McGinn was faced with the biggest temptation of his life. HE WAS WATCHING THE BYU SDSU GAME THAT DAD AND CAM WERE AT RIGHT THEN AND THERE AND CAME OUTSIDE TO VISIT WITH US DURING A COMMERCIAL!!! It's been fun following the sports, but wow they have never hit me until that moment, and what hurt worse was that he was simply 'passing time' cause basketball doesn't really interest him all that much. What a darn rat. Haha, but I put a little 'Go Cougs' in my heart, thought of you all, and kept walking through the mud and the rain!

Haha, here's for my week. It's still hot as ever and even worse after a rain storm. When it rains... pull out your inflatable boats haha, cause it really pours. Thanks to Ecco and Gortex, my shoes are great. My companion´s... we're off to fix his shoes that changed colors and the other pair that came off the sole.

Here's how the week goes, it rains really hard and is really muddy cause most of the roads are dirt. The next day, the dirt is so so dry and it looks like it had never rained. The next day is normal and wonderful, but the rain builds up for the next day.

Ah and to Allie´s question, we had a dish called güatita the other day with an awesome meat called Mondongo. It was rice, potatoes, and cow stomach with a peanut sauce. That was a ride, and tasted pretty good! You just forget what they told you it was and all is fine.

On Tuesday we had a ton of laughs. It was raining like crazy, we visited a recent convert and helped her fix up her tarp porch covering that was sagging with pockets of water. As my companion and I counted to 3 to run the water out and fix up her covering, water defied the laws of gravity and went LEFT not down. We heard a scream and in a matter of seconds our recent convert was soaked from head to foot! Hahaha.

Then in the evening we went to visit another recent convert and I put in practice my limberness as a Tree Cat. There were friends over, studying for college, it is culture in South America to greet with a kiss on the cheek and Elder McGinn seemed to be oblivious to that one. A girl shook my hand and leaned in as my instant reflexes kicked in and I jumped back with a surprised and disgusted look on my face! Haha, I've never seen someone's face go white to red so quickly. It's a good thing my arms were longer than her brain that night, if you catch my drift.

Ah and to end the funny stuff, I should get on to the missionary work, but one more thing. I truly felt like the Humble Bumble who helps put the star on the Christmas Tree this Sunday. The 1st Counselor in the Bishopric came over and asked a great favor, if I could stand up on the benches and stick the clock back up on the wall that had fallen. All watched in awe as I climbed the bench in the back and my long arms hooked up the clock again. I know it's stupid, but the first thing that popped into my head was the Humble Bumble haha.

Okay, off to the work. This week was a rougher one. We had a baptism, which was great! Erica Garcia, 17 yrs old from a Less Active family that is reactivating! That was a joy to see. Other than that, literally every single one of our progressing investigators told us 'no more,' or took off on vacation (their in 'summer break' right now). That really stank, but taught us an important lesson. That is not who the Lord wants, let's find the people He is preparing! The next day we had 13 contacts in 2ish hours knocking doors, we have been working with the members and got 12 References to go visit, and I really have been blessed with this opportunity to be a trainer cause Elder Molina has so much excitement to get working and get teaching!

We have almost no one that we are teaching, we're in the hunt right now but there is a key to life here, there is ALWAYS something to do and it is ALWAYS CORRECT if it is done in the Lord. Seek His guidance, seek His hand, He slapped us without investigators, but He really didn't slap us this week, more He turned our heads to where He wants us to work. The Lord works in mysterious ways, are we humble enough to take His hand? His advice? His abrupt changes that ALWAYS lead for the better?

We do have an investigator and her husband that are progressing. We have Family Night with them tonight and she surprised us the other night by telling us she had read more than what we left her in the Book of Mormon! That was music to our ears. She has a brother on a mission in Quito and she is really interested in the gospel and what her brother is doing. We're really excited for this one and the work is on!

There is always something to do, this week is fishing, hunting, contacting, getting references, but OH what a joy to be in the service of the Lord! I couldn't have asked for a better moment in my life, being a missionary, trusting in the Lord, promising miracles and seeing them take place AS THE PEOPLE ACT: Act, you'll be amazed, be acted upon... that's simply life. LIFE is to be acted upon, LIVE is to make your decisions. Any missionary can pass through 2 years, just like any person can pass through life. But the key is living, making, acting, creating and I promise you the Lord is on your side.

I love you all, I am so happy and there is no better thing to do than serve the Lord with a smile. Trust in the Lord and He will guide you! Trust... means act in the faith.

Elder McGinn

I attached a picture of my half-eaten plate of food cause it was EXACTLY what the Perry's gave us that night before coming to Ecuador!