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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Email - September 5, 2011

We asked for a referral the other day and got one, then I busted up laughing after and felt like an idiot cause no one else did... his name is Marco Polo. I guess Latinos don't play Marco Polo when they go swimming and I'm glad he's not in our sector, it would be difficult teaching Marco Polo, hard to find him too ;).

Anywho... I thank you for the package you sent! I opened it just barely and it is AWESOME, Mother, there is nothing wrong with sending simply sugar, Elder Franco and I are very happy. We already had a battle with Batman and Joker and I am savoring the best (cake frosting) for last. Haha and thank you for your note from Sasquatch, Mase and your awesome drawing Syd, I love my family! Go Cougs and T Wolves! Looks like things are heating up again! I sure love that time of year!

I hope you enjoyed the cabin! We were going to run on the beach this morning to see the sharks, yet we realized as the alarm went off that it is 'La Veda' the time when fish ovulate and fishers don't fish. We got up 'por gusto!' For nothing! I thank you for the family you are, I sure love you all! I will try to send a small package this week, it should have a USB drive with photos from my camera, let me know if you got it and if the photos came through! This is the last week of the change, I should be off the beach soon, I hope not though! Still eating octopus and shark, but this week I got Chicken Liver and Heart too... I thanked the family... for fixing if for the first AND last time haha.

This week has been awesome, we are working like crazy, as always, as Zone Leaders to uplift the Zone, improve the mission, and inspire the missionaries. It has been a longer week with different outcomes than we had desired, but the blessings and miracles of a loving Father in Heaven are always evident. I was absolutely touched yesterday to see the progress in our recent convert Jean Carlos get to church early in shirt and tie (borrowed from a wedding he was at Saturday night) and pass the Sacrament for the first time. It was such a beauty to see how the youth in the ward took him in, gave him something to do, and have made quick friends. This is opening doors to keep working with the rest of his family. It made me think of how I loved to pass, prepare and bless the sacrament. NEVER let those moments to use your priesthood go by! They will stick with you for a life time. It was also a joy to not have to worry so much about him as he was accepted so well by the rest of the ward.

We have a Family Home Evening every Thursday in a house of one of the leaders of the ward each week, 3 weeks ago we got it started, and it was such a joy to see the less actives that are active, the investigators that are progressing, and a different spirit about the Ward Tarqui now. Many less actives came to the pulpit to bear their testimony on the love of the Savior shown in the lending hand of those in the ward, simply inviting them to the Family Night. This Gospel is too good to simply go through the motions on Sundays, it is something we breath, eat, drink and sleep!

This week we had the miracle to find 5 new families to teach. We will visit a few of them tonight, that is really what we have needed, more people. What was the trick? One, we prayed for people in our paths every day and Two (the key to the answers to prayers), we went out and spoke with all in our path! People spoke, some ran haha, but most opened up, and many were touched by a light of hope and accepted a next visit.

I'm positive I'm out of here this week, but I am working so hard to make this sector and zone better than they were when I came in! I know it's not much this week, but I know that God lives and that He loves us personally. I know He will guide us, we simply must listen. The best results come in action, working for your answers, and the Savior's cry to repent is the best tool we could ever use in this life. It is how we recognize that God is watching out for us. He sees who we can become, how we can better serve Him. Act and enjoy the blessings, let your pride govern you and you shall stumble. God loves us, He wants us to daily become like His Son. Humbly seek to improve where we fall and you'll be surprised just how much you've progressed.

I love you all, I love this Gospel, I love my Savior Jesus Christ and strive daily to be the servant He wants AND knows I can become.

Elder McGinn