Monday, August 29, 2011
As for me in Manta, the change is up in 2 weeks and I'm sure I'm out of here. My year run in paradise is about up, it never rains, the ocean breeze, the food (shark on Saturday, octopus on Sunday, what more could I ask for?) Great to hear all is well with all of you!
Anyway, let's hurry to the good stuff before my time comes to a close. This week was a rough one if we want to talk about progress and numbers. We’re working to get the Zone up and going again and trying to save our sector. I have really come closer to my Savior this week and learned how to better serve Him in moments of trial. We search and search for the reason why we are tried, when sometimes the answer is 'Just cause.' I am learning how (cause I'm still perfecting it) to face the rough times with hard work and optimism to animate those around me, whether they be my companion, my investigators, or those in my Zone. More than anything I was touched and humbled at the same time.
We went to visit Lenín who has quit progressing and was thinking of dropping us. In talking to him, he was his happy, talkative self, but sooner or later he simply broke down to tears and asked us 'What am I doing wrong, does God really listen to me when I pray? Because I pray for help to take away my addiction, I pray for a better life with friends, I simply want a wife, kids, happiness.' It really shocked us and I truly learned how to better love and suffer patiently with those around me. We promised him special blessings, we left him happy and animated as ever, and again he thanked us for being sent from God. Lessons like that really make you so happy, moments that can't really be marked with a number.
My time is short, but I want you all to know that Christ loves you. He always has and always will. We do pass through trials and so do those around us and it is much easier to do it patiently WITH those around us, not against them. They need us and we need them, just as we need Christ and I'm positive He needs us in the Mansions of His Father. What is His Atonement worth if we don't get to be there enjoying the reward with Him? Let us love those around us, let us strengthen our relation with Christ, and let it shine upon those around us. That is the beauty of life. That is the life of a missionary - pure joy.
Love you all!
Monday, August 22, 2011
So... we had a GOAL of 5 baptisms for this Saturday that is coming but... for crazy fevers, epileptic attacks (no lie, but not me or my companion) none of the 5 that we had planned came to church. We have many investigators that truly want baptism but something randomly always comes up and keeps them from their goal! In other words... probably no baptisms this week unless we see a miracle. Let's pray for a miracle. We DID have a baptism of Jean Carlos, he is 13 and lives next to the chapel, he was a contact of a contact and will have great success for the welcome of the youth in the ward. We are working with the rest of his family so they get baptized here soon too. The other picture is of a BBQ that we had with another companionship that lives nearby, yes I fixed up the grill cause the others are from Bolivia, Panama and Mexico, it turned out well. This will be a fast email, but I need to leave you all satisfied, right? Well here goes nothing...
Missionaries and Future Missionaries (and all you else too) DO ALL YOU CAN TO BE WORTHY OF THE SPIRIT AND THEN FOLLOW IT! We have had some awesome lessons these past few days with Lenín and with a neighbor named Janeth Landa. Satan is really working hard on both of them, Lenín is starting to feel like our visits aren't worth it anymore and that we are really taking away his happiness. Janeth denies baptism, even though she wants it and comes to church and has family that are members, because 'all the members in the church come from generations and generations of members.' Satan is really working on her too, but I have never had lessons like those two in my entire life. It was WWF, missionary style haha. I don't know why I'm sharing this cause I've about run out of words about the experience... there's not much to say haha, but what I can promise each and every one of you is that there is a difference in being a Missionary and being the Lord's Instrument. I truly felt in His hands, saying His words and testifying of His Son Jesus Christ!
(Future) Missionaries... Satan is real and is really working. The Holy Ghost is all too real also and though we don't recognize it, He can constantly guide us! Do ALL you can to build up your testimony! Defend what is right in EVERY MOMENT in the little things. in 2 Nephi 28 we learn how Satan speaks that 'all is well...' whether it be with our friend groups, what we do with our friends, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, if we will be okay with them alone, if saying a simple personal prayer before sleeping is worth the pain or not. The little things save us, never be in moments of risk. Love your parents, parents... love your children. SPEND TIME TOGETHER! I learned just how real Satan is in those two lessons and how important it is to STAND in DEFENSE of this Gospel and not simply sit back and watch thinking 'all is well in Zion.' I love being a Defender of Truth, not simply a Bench Sitter who hopes his time will come.
The next experience I hope makes more sense haha, but came from Sunday's Sacrament Meeting and ties in with what I just talked about. A great leader that helps us a lot with visits said that 'the youth of today will NOT be the men of tomorrow, for they need to be the men of today!' This world really needs you all, but most importantly you Youth. Be worthy to go on missions, that means you read your scriptures, you pray, you have Family Night (or work to get it up and going), you partake of the Sacrament, you USE your priesthood, you listen to and love your parents, you look out for your siblings, you do all you can to keep the Lord close! If you may not serve a full time mission, for whatever reason, don't think it's over because you do not know the importance of the members in our work. GO WITH THE ELDERS, VISIT THE LESS ACTIVES, You need to be the Men of Today!
And yes, Dad, that does make me feel old in hearing of WHO is getting mission calls recently, haha. I love being a missionary and this week I learned that it is much more than speaking prettily about Jesus Christ. It is about living like Him and defending Him with every Action (actions start in your thoughts, thoughts come from desires, in other words we need to be like Him down to our deepest desires.) I KNOW Christ lives, I know His Gospel has been restored. Prepare to your best ability and don't let anything get in your way (sports, school, girls or boys for you sister missionaries haha.)
Well this email was a bit longer than expected, but I got excited, or as Mase would say 'distracted by shiny objects.' I sure love you all and hope you find the hope that Christ brings, it comes in doing as He asks and we'll know by simply trusting and simply doing.
Ta ta for now!
Monday, August 15, 2011
I apologize for writing quickly, but it seems that as I have more time in the mission, I have less time on the computer. Got to report! Got to work! Got to teach! Time is something I wish I could Indian leg wrestle away.
Yes it is hot here, but I've gotten used to it, every day is like a normal summer day in Utah. The good thing about Manta is that it never rains and there is an awesome ocean breeze that makes it alright. The members do leave with us a lot, but the only ones that speak English are the returned missionaries (from whatever decade haha) and the future missionaries. Almost no one likes English, it is mandatory, but I tell them it's okay cause I hated Spanish in high school (that's why I went for German!) Anway... I sure love you all and I guess I should leave you with a quick spiritual thought and how my week went!
We had stake conference yesterday and I loved the final talk on Faith. It was a banger, I love the talks that really give you the 'Machete'. Pres. Luna spoke on faith when it comes to 3 things... Tithing, Sabbath Day Observance (with work most of all), and Temple Attendance and it was awesome! It was such a joy to see my friends and converts from Eloy Alfaro (my last ward 3 changes ago) that are still active!
We have seen so many blessings in these past weeks, miracles really. Elder Franco and I are working so hard and it kills us when we have huge baptismal goals, but as the end of the month comes... church attendance hinders their dates. We are nervous, more than anything with the Zone, but if all goes well, we should have 6 baptisms in these next 2 weeks! By simply working hard and doing so obediently we have seen miracles, there are people, they want baptism, they accept dates and progress, but the friendships and rumors really impede their progress. Haha, one lady who is preparing for baptism showed up to a baptismal service simply to see if it was true that we baptized with Cat Blood! She told us 'that must be a lot of cats! I had to see if it was true!' Satan works in many mysterious ways to stop this great work... well we ain't stopping!
Please continue to pray for Lenín. He is working a lot now and his excitement to visit with us is dying due to his environment. He has completely dropped drinking, which is an absolute miracle, but really feels that he will have nothing to do and no friends if he joins the church. Please pray for Jean Carlos, Joao (Joe Aoh), Steven, Gloria, Pedro, Leo and Cristian. They are all working towards baptisms these next two weeks, but have really rough environments. We are hopeful, they will be baptized, but your prayers will help.
Most of them are youth and I want to share 2 simply stories of the strength of the youth and the blessings of living the Gospel. One comes in what Joao (13 yrs) said of reading the scriptures. He said something I had never heard before... reading the scriptures is like a self cleaning because every day you read, you find out how to repent more effectively. Wow! He is already inviting friends and family to his baptism, he has softened the heart of his mother who is listening to us.
The other comes from Leo. He is 17 and reminds me of Cam, he is big and likes the Gym, haha and many other things that make them alike. He told us of the troubles in high school and his temper. Also of his pride and how it is so hard to say 'sorry.' People pick on him to get him mad, he does, the others pay for it cause he blows up, but I had one of the sweetest moments in my mission as he accepted to attempt his first prayer ever and did one of the hardest things... he asked forgiveness of God, told Him sorry for what he has done and how he wants to be better. That was the sweetest prayer I'd ever heard! He told his mom he wants to be a missionary like us (I don't know if he realizes he has to be baptized first) but he even turned down his friends on an Ecuadorian Holiday Night to wait our visit!
The youth are strong, in and out of the church, in wickedness and in righteousness. Let us keep on the good side. Strong in the church, in righteousness! It is not hard, it really is quite easy, and the blessings sure do come. Read the scriptures, say your prayers, listen to God as you pray for He wants to talk with you. Go to church, magnify your priesthood young men and fathers. Be who God wants you to be, be who your children, friends, or parents see you as. Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I am so happy here in the mission field, there is no greater joy and YES it does come... after much trial. God loves us, never hold off an opportunity to serve, to become, to magnify, to lift. This is the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and what a blessing it is to walk in its ever strait path!
Monday, August 8, 2011
First off, that made me so happy to hear about your temple trip and temple goal, there is no better place on earth and we are so blessed to have so many temples nearby. If you are worthy GO! If you are not worthy, GET WORTHY and GO! It is not hard, may be heard to break a routine, but there is nothing so sweet, rewarding or uplifting as living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I just want to share a few experiences that lightened my week. First is the importance and value of members. Yesterday we had a 16yr old boy go visiting with us. As missionaries (if we are obedient) we will always have the spirit, but there is something different, something sweeter when a member comes and shares their testimony. In 3 visits we put 3 baptismal dates and most of it was thanks to the Priest who came and simply shared his testimony. There is a power in the members of the church. I really feel terrible for never going with the missionaries back home, and YES it may be tough in Utah, haha, but do visits at all times possible! If you can't with them, snatch someone from your Quorum and visit a less active or someone who didn't go to church! I didn't realize the importance of members until being here in the mission, you are the key to what we do as missionaries. You are the door to many baptisms, temple sealings, and experiences that will last a life time.
Now you have the 'What do I do?' now here is the 'How do I do it?'
In one of our visits, there was an 18yr old boy in the back that was, but wasn't listening to us. He was eavesdropping! Haha, so we ratted him out and invited him over. We shared a message about the Sabbath Day and asked some questions so the family could apply it to their daily lives. What came next touched me so deeply. We asked Jonny how he had felt as we had conversed. The Spirit filled the entire room as he responded and taught me my calling as a Servant of Christ... 'I felt listened to.' We invited him to be baptized, he accepted, we are preparing him for the end of August.
He is an 18yr old boy without parents. He lives with his Sister in Law and grandparents. He would have been a missed opportunity had we not invited him over. I learned a huge lesson, a simple one that touched me forever. I am a servant of Christ. He invited, I will too. He served, I will too. He didn't simply teach, but He listened, I will too. We may not have the right words to say, we may not have the perfect message, we may not even know WHY we were prompted to go or do, but we may have the complete assurity that as we follow our impressions, we will be guided. As we simply listen, not even share a message, that is the best gift anyone can ever be given... a listening, loving ear.
Sé que mi Redentor vive y me ama. Él demuestra Su amor hacia ustedes también. La única cosa que nos pide es que guardemos Sus mandamientos. Y ¿para qué? 'para que viváis y os vaya bien...' Deut. 5:33. Les amo a todos, José Smith sí restauró la iglesia sobre la tierra hoy en día para que la tengamos, para que vivamos los mandamientos, a fin de que bendigamos las vidas de los demás con el espíritu de amor que tendremos al obedecer!
Go to Jeff for what that says... love you all
Saturday, August 6, 2011
I am going to kill the Internet Cafe Man... I am all ready to send pictures and which machine do I get? The one with tape over the plugs! You'll get pictures soon haha. We do NOT have fish tacos, it's a bummer! But I am enjoying shrimp, squid, octopus, and a variety of fish! Wow I'm in heaven. Yes I am dreaming in Spanish! It's awesome, it's weird. And NO I have not latched turtles to ride the waves, haha.
We just had transfers and I'm still here with Elder Franco! By the end of this change I will have passed one year on the beach... half in Portoviejo and half in Manta. I am SO happy with the fish I am enjoying! We have a brand new Zone. Of the 9 companionships we have... 7 had transfers, I am so excited to get working again. We had a crazy week and I can tell you that the Lord does bless us after we do all that we can.
We had a baptismal goal of 7 in the past change, we only got 3 but 4 fell for vacations and other things, we are going to have one hot month in August! The miracle is that of the 3 baptisms in July... none were in our list of investigators when we first made the goal. People fell, we kept working, we took advantage of the placement of the Lord, and all turned out!
We had a baptism this Saturday, Andres Lopez. He is a 19yr old kid who literally changed his life. He dropped it all in hopes of a better family. His parents don't trust him, his little sister prays he'll change, he came to church months ago, but disappeared. We ran into him in the street and he said he'd come to church. He dropped it all in a week and a half of visiting him. He was in gangs, drank, ran out with girls and you can literally SEE the difference that baptism and the Holy Ghost have made in his life. He is one of the miracles, one of the people prepared of the Lord and simply placed in our path.
Please continue to pray for Lenín also. He is struggling to drop alcohol. He feels great with us, great in reading the Book of Mormon, yet when he falls, he falls hard. It's sad, yet funny... we know when he's drunk cause he speaks to me in English, what a change he is making. Please pray for them, we are searching for more people because we have tons that want to be baptized, we should have 7 or 8 in the next 6 weeks, but many are simply not progressing. Elder Franco and I are living it up, it is SO MUCH FUN to be obedient, be diligent, and have companion who does the same. We have a blast, we work hard, I have never seen so many miracles in my life this past transfer. I want to finish with one of those miracles that I shall never forget...
We've been visiting a lady, Consuelo, her kids never listen and make fun of us behind our backs. It doesn't bother us, but simply to set the scene. One is 11 years old, he had is appendix taken out and wasn't doing so hot with the healing. One day in visiting his mother, we were leaving when he called for us. We turned back around and he wanted us to 'heal him of his sickness.' My companion and I looked at each other and a cool spirit entered the room. We gave him a priesthood blessing, he was hunched over in a plastic chair with a big wrap about his stomach. Eight days later we happened to pass by and all was better! Perfect! Yes, his stitches were taken out like normal, but the doctors were surprised by the quick recovery. I know he was healed by the power of God, that power is the Priesthood.
Men are entrusted to bless those in need, to bless those that surround us. Just for receiving it once doesn't mean we keep it forever... be worthy of it. Deserve it and bless lives. God is a God of Miracles... THE God of Miracles. Let us be obedient, let us be diligent, then we shall deserve His Spirit and we shall change lives.
I love you all and thank you for your prayers. I am happy, I am healthy, quit telling me how much time I have left cause it passes too fast! ;)
Elder Griffin McGinn