Friday, April 29, 2011

Email - April 25, 2011

Well as for Easter, I was disappointed with Ecuador but still made it worthwhile! Nothing of the Resurrection was mentioned in Church, OUR CHURCH, that gives you hope for the rest of the world down here right? Haha. I spent my nights after getting to the house reading of the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and it was so great.

The best thing in the world was yesterday. We got up early to walk 30 minutes to church. It was overcast with rays of sun peeking through the clouds with palm trees and the smell of the beach. The first thing that popped into my head was 'Christ is Risen.' In seeing the sky and pondering of my Savior I was brought to tears in one of the most beautiful 30 minutes of my life.

It broke my heart down here at Easter. They call it 'Holy Week' and have crazy traditions. It was a whole week but now simply 'Holy Friday.' The devout Catholics (I saw no one) don't shower. They don't eat meat or you are eating the flesh of Christ. They don't work, weed, cut trees, no school, anything because when you do, you are making Christ bleed. Some punish themselves and walk miles on their knees, weird things like that. That is what I HEARD, cause I saw nothing. What I saw was beaches full of people, taxis and buses zooming with music blaring, and a world that seems to have forgotten the true happiness in a Risen Savior. But I can truly tell you that there was such a spirit that Sunday Morning, a morning that I hope to never forget. Ooh I forgot! I did miss the 'Pitbull' Concert here in Manta. He came. What a great celebration for Easter, everyone out dancing drunk or high in an awful pit of sin.

Anyway, this week was great! Our sector is really flying, we are now picking up pace and starting with this Saturday, we SHOULD be having baptisms weekly. But most of all I want to tell you of experiences that have really made me wonder. The other week I told you that we went singing house to house near some members AND telling them that if they had questions, go to the members so close! None of them really want to hear us anymore, why? One Word - Example. We went to visit a family where the parents are not members but ALL this kids are and even an Ex Missionary. The father used to go all the time, but now told us flat out that he doesn't want anything with the church. Why? Same Word - Example. It has broken my heart this week and could talk all about this, but follow the scripture and BE THOU AN EXAMPLE OF THE BELIEVERS! Your examples are so so so important. That is what moves the Gospel. Pres. Uchtdorf said that Missionary Work is the Blood Work of the Kingdom... Missionary Work goes no where without you all! Read your Scriptures, Say your Prayers, Have your Family Home Evening, Go to Church, Serve, Smile… you are happy being in the Gospel so you might as well shine and share and invite others to taste too!

But to end on the good side of being examples... we saw a miracle this week. A little girl asked me when we'd come by the other week, we finally went Saturday to meet the family. She wasn't there BUT had been waiting all week for us! As we were about to head back, we passed by a house and a lady called us over. She is a member of the church! She goes to the other ward simply because she never knew where her house fit in the boundaries. Her husband is not a member, but he goes with her all the time. They are married, they are happy, and to testify to you all of the simple miracles of living the Gospel... this man accepted an inspired baptismal invitation for the 28th of May... he then told us that that day is his birthday. May I testify to you all of the importance of members that live the Gospel. Why not live it? You get blessings!

I love the work, there is no better calling than that of being an Instrument in the Lord's hands as He plays so perfectly. THAT is a mission. A mission is seeking the spirit. A mission is acting upon it. A mission then is seeing the miracles that the Lord performs as you put your life in harmony with His. I testify to you all that that is the life of a member too, because every member is a missionary. I simply have the fortune to do it full time! I love you all! Happy Easter!

Elder Griffin McGinn

Monday, April 18, 2011

Email - April 18, 2011

I noticed that I seem to jump into my week and never really tell how I am or answer questions haha, so here's a little slow down. I'm having a blast in Manta, the next week we may go to a cool tourist spot in Monticristi but we'll see what happens with Semana Santa (Holy Week). This week is the week of Easter and the Catholics have crazy traditions. I don't know all of them, so I'll fill you in later, but some days they are not allowed to eat meat, others they cannot eat fish, if you do you are eating the body of Christ, lots of crazy things like that.

 I'm healthy (to American Standards) haha I jumped on a scale the other day at a members house where you put your height and as you step on the scale it'll show how healthy you really are. At 6'2 and 195ish, I'm very obese haha. Health is great, my companionship is getting much better, I really have learned that it is much easier and more edifying, though tests your patience, to simply walk with them and not drag them. We have been blessed out here with a HUGE area, probably the size of Orem and part of Provo and we have tons of investigators. That is the great thing about Latin America Missions. People listen, people progress. The problem is either the missionaries that don't take advantage of this great blessing and the converts fall away quickly and easily.

 A few things that have touched me deeply this week, you really cannot count the blessings in the field. This morning I read a letter from my converts in Portoviejo who thanked me for my service, but not just that, they invited me to their sealing here in December! I still lack almost a whole year, but I about came into tears as I truly felt the heart of missionary work. Not baptisms, not lessons, families that get a glimpse and catch hold of the hope of an eternity together. I sure hope I can join them in their sealing. That would be the best Christmas present I could ever ask for!

 This week was full of teaching and started off strong! On Tuesday alone we committed 4 people to baptism and are helping them realize the love of God in their personal lives. One was very special. We were talking to a girl of 21 who is pregnant and already has a 3 year old girl. Her boyfriend drinks and smokes and never is at home. She is looking for hope (perfect! haha) but her little girl would not stop running, yelling, banging, and playing! We were with a member who's preparing for a mission and what happened next was picture perfect. I opened my Book of Mormon with a picture of the family and Christ in the front and the little girl came to my arms to flip through the pictures. The mother noticed and all went dead quiet and the Spirit truly pierced our hearts and filled our empty souls as my companion invited her to come to Christ and be baptized in May. She accepted with such easiness! It was so simple, so touching, we could've lost patience and disregarded our impression of the Spirit and left without a Baptismal Date. Instead we made the most of a situation, reached out in love, and the Spirit so easily entered that home and assured María José of the hope for families in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 My last story comes from Friday. We went to visit before lunch at 1. It was 11 and our appt. wasn't there. We could've wasted time waiting for lunch, but instead we went singing from door to door. We would enter, sing a hymn, leave a prayer over their home and take off. Real simple! No real results until the 4th house, a lady that almost rejected us too cause she 'had to pick up the kids from school' when they came walking up minutes later. She let us in, we sang Families can be Together Forever and she completely opened up to us, told us of the great family she has yet something is lacking. We left her the Book of Mormon, a promise of what she would find therein, and an appointment to come back this Wednesday.

 Look for the little ways to keep the Spirit, to make the most of time, to make the most of your situations, to be more patient, to be more loving, to not judge but to enjoy. By waiting, by hoping, by acting and by promising I have been able to come closer to my Savior, my companion, and allow Maria Jose and the Family Briones Cordero come closer to their Savior.

There is no greater work on the earth. There are no tougher pains, there are no greater joys, a mission is for those who TRULY want to find the Savior in their lives because they are willing to pass through the trials, humble themselves, and wait patiently for the blessings that they KNOW will come!

 It's hard. It's a blast. Christ lives, He loves me so much and I know He feels the same about each one of you. 'Bridle your Passions so that you may be filled with love,' and I promise you that all will be so much better in the home, in the street, and before your Maker.

 Elder McGinn

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Email & Pictures - April 11, 2011

This week was awesome! It's fun being District Leader and really seeing the progress and having a little more motive to push the work forward little by little. I had my first interchanges, one with our Zone Leaders and another in my District. That was crazy, we are learning... how to really be missionaries and not simply robots. It is so simply what we've been taught. Sometimes as missionaries (and as members) we go through the motions and pass over the inspiration, revelation, and true growth that can be made.

One visit was with a former investigator that I don't know. We went to visit her and by simply listening to her, listening to the Spirit, and acting upon it, she came to tell us with tears and smiles of memories of her mother that passed away years ago. How it has affected her, the family, and what she truly looks for in life. We were able to put a baptismal date and a schedule to go back and visit her. By simply loving and listening, you really change lives.

But anyway, I got a hint of Life Eternal this week. We sat down with a man whose wife is a member, his little son too (from the story last week with swimming). He has been praying and reading the Book of Mormon about his Baptismal Date and surprised us with our visit after church. In talking he, lovingly, denied the baptismal date we put AND PUT HIS OWN! He has seen the changes in his son, in his wife, and has thought a lot about really being a part of all that. He changed his date for May 30th, the birthday of his son. His wife was in tears, we were too haha, and you could really feel that families HAVE GOT TO BE eternal!

It has been a joy to see so many families that are already members preparing to get sealed after hearing Conference. Life, the mission, the church, whatever, it's not about baptisms, it's about being eternal. We have been blessed in this sector with not only investigators, but with families and I sure hope that after some baptisms I can join in some sealings before I head home! Our week was full of visits, the work is flying over here. For THIS Change we should help a few find the waters of baptism and the joy of living the Gospel.

I have been amazed in my reading of the war chapters in Alma and how the Nephites totally ruin themselves for simply having... contention. There's a funny, yet true scripture in Alma 50 that says 'they would've had peace if it hadn’t been for a little contention about land.' This contention starts a war, this war is nasty, this hurts the church and gives way for the Lamanites to damage big time. Let's live what P Boyd K Packer taught us, 'John... forget about it.'

I hope you enjoy this week as I will and enjoy this last story. Love, Seek the Spirit, Follow your impressions. Elder Barcia and I are getting better, but we had a real rough day one afternoon. In the house for lunch he went upset into another room and I paced the house wondering what I could do. The strongest impression came to simply talk to him. I couldn't have done it in the situation I was in. I kneeled to pray in the kitchen floor for the right words and went in to talk. We talked about an hour and ended better friends than before. The work goes on. The important thing is not what you say, it is how you listen. People really don't need your sermon, they simply need ears that will hear!

I love the work, I love the Lord, I love you all and have a great week!

Elder McGinn

Ah yeah, sorry real quick. For my birthday we simply had a little dinner with cake. Jeff can tell you the rotten tradition. They took the knife out of my hand so no one would be punctured as I went to bite the cake. Why? Cause as you bite the cake they smack your face into it big time! I survived, but they painted me for a picture haha. I did avoid the belt slaps... they pull the Gpa Mangum down here. Haha
Love you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Email - April 4, 2011

What a Conference, right?! Wow! Hey and a thanks for the birthday wishes, the rumor slipped and the Bishopric is doing a Birthday Family Night for me this Thursday.

 Alright then, just a note to you all... the buses in Portoviejo were short and fast (so I thought), Vinces was a ride in bumpy Zoo Trucks and Motorcycles. In Manta I am reliving the Tree Cat of old, Bobbing and Weaving, Jumping and Praying (but not like the Hypocrites) in these buses. There is no bus that I haven't drilled my head! Haha anyway, it's good to be back on the coast. The fish is awesome, I hope I stay away from Guayaquil and stick put in the coast. I should, cause my companion lacks 2 transfers, I could be here awhile...

 What a Conference! We could talk all day on that, but I'll just list a few of my favorites. PRIESTHOOD SESSION!!!, Elder Richard's on Pain, I don't know, it was all great. We were in the Stake Center, just me and Elder Baum in the room with English on TV, that was nice. It makes me sad to see how no one comes or sees or bothers about the Saturday Sessions... some come for Priesthood, Sunday Morning fills, and the crowd dies as Conference does for the Sunday Afternoon Session, but I loved it!

As for my week... it's been normal being District Leader, but this week I will get a much better look of what I have in store, it is fun! Elder Barcia and I are hanging in there! It's fun, but it's different. He lacks 3 months. He's on cruise control, but things are going to rock as we learn to finish strong together! I have really been tested on my patience and love this week, the sector is HUGE, we would fit 2 or 3 stakes from home here, no maybe 5. So I can never complain of having nothing to do! Haha, I will tell two stories that I hope will change your lives and your outlook on the little things (I think I always talk on little things, don't I?)

We have been blessed with a Mission Leader who was baptized a year ago and is waiting his mission call. What excitement he has for the work! It shows in following inspiration, no matter how small. We went out visiting one morning with him. The plan AND it's backup fell through haha, but as we went to the first house ,right across the street was a family out on a porch with loud music playing. I felt the slightest hint to at least say hello. I didn't even do that. We went to plan B up the street and it fell through. I had forgotten of the tiniest impression to say hello to that family, but our Mission Leader had felt it too. He begged us to go back, so we went back. I introduced us as Representatives of Jesus Christ and all 5 stood up, 4 left inside, a lady had stood up to fix the seats for us! We got talking to her and had an awesome first contact! We didn't realize the importance of that tiny impression until the next visit. Gabriela Ramirez told us the next visit that when we came by the first time she felt something inviting and hoped we would come over. We left. But on returning a few minutes later something hit her heart 'They are sent from God, accept them.' As I opened my mouth, she knew God had directed us to change her life. We go back Wednesday with her busy schedule, but unfolded a life story of seeking the truth, visiting many churches, and being blown away by the impression she felt in simply seeing us.

 What would have happened if we didn't go back? If we were lazy and would rather hit lunch early? If we hadn't followed the Spirit? Yes, it's true, contacting, tracting, it blows haha. But when it is by the Spirit, when you follow an impression, you can be SURE that the lesson to be learned (for you or them) is of God. Follow impressions, don't let the Spirit die on you... or better said, don't die on the Spirit. It won't smack you on your Road to Damascus, yet it will simply whisper and guide you as a mother guides her child by the hand. I love the work!

The next lesson was learned by a 9 year old in a family where his dad is not a member, but he and his mom are. I asked him why he likes swimming, I thought of living the Gospel with the response he gave. He told me 'porque me gusta hacerlo, y aun que no soy perfecto, estoy mejorando cada día!' or... 'I love doing it, and even though I'm not the best, I am improving each day!' That lesson turned into tears of hope and joy as the father accepted to prepare for baptism. Let us learn from the children, let us apply what we have learned in Conference. We like what we do, we like how we feel. We are not perfect, but we improve every day. That is the mission, that is the Gospel, that is life with your hopes set on Christ!

 Live the Gospel, know I love you so much. I'm not perfect, but I love the little joys I get from 9 year old boys that swim, from women who recognize they need what we have, from families that pray for us and we arrive to comfort them. The mission isn't baptisms, the mission is recognizing that we love the Gospel, we want others to have it, and we improve daily relying on someone who IS perfect, Even Jesus Christ. The mission is the best thing in the world. Serve one. Stay on one. Don't pass time, live it. Christ loves you, repent... we like what we do and how we feel.

 I'll have a great birthday with a fun Weekly Planning Session! Haha, love you all, There is no better joy than living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Elder McGinn