Monday, October 31, 2011

Email - October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! How crazy how time flies right? It is just cooking! It sounds like you'll have fun with Halloween tonight, I sure do miss celebrations and holiday over in the US, Halloween is a 'do it if you want, but we'd rather NOT go through the effort' in Ecuador AND there is no way mothers would send children door to door here, just a wee bit sketchy.

I am NOT Trunky but the Lord sent me a message on Sunday. We were eating with the Members and had lasagna! Yum! But even better, I had apple pie for the first time since Mom sent it to me in the MTC. That was so good! I got thinking of home and how yummy that pie was when the sweet grandma got telling me of cancer she had in her ovaries and I just got 'tickle wrists' (mase and cam haha) and all feelings of sweet apple pie went out the window.

This week has been great! Full of ups and many downs, but the Lord always comes through with miracles. That has been one of the biggest lessons of my mission, you never know when, but if you are faithful the Lord will always come through. We were stoked to get baptisms up and going weekly here in November and no one came to church... we got hosed. It was rough BUT I told you all about Kayla Gomez, right? She said she'd rather go to another ward where her friends are instead of getting baptized, a tiny problem gone wrong. Well anyway, we ran into her last night and she had been thinking and wants to get baptized in the ward! She's happy to keep her other friends, but decided it was best to get it done with and be baptized, our baptismal goal for this week that fell through with church attendance got lifted again! We will talk to her parents tomorrow and see if this Saturday is alright with her baptism, but we are stoked! She also invited her cousin upstairs who accepted a baptismal date for the end of November!

We have seen a lot of ups and a lot of downs this week, that is the mission, but I grow stronger and stronger in my testimony of God's love for us and His encouragement on the way! I don't have much time, but I'd like to share a humbling experience I had on Tuesday night. We visited Luis and Lucía, references from our convert here a few weeks back. They listen and enjoy, but are really nervous and always reject the invitation to come to church. We have to teach them really simply, yet all works well. Tuesday we were talking about the Atonement of Christ and it was a sweet, powerful lesson. We asked them if they'd like to personally feel His love in their lives and they saw past the question and got all defensive in saying they would NOT get baptized. They jumped the gun on us haha. That IS where we were headed, just bit by bit ;). What Luis said next truly touched me. It seemed he got offended and said 'Elders, we have let you in our home, we listen, I am even trying to pray every single night like you told us to when I have never said a prayer in my life, nor felt that God existed or loved me. We do all you say, can't you simply be patient with us?' I was truly humbled in that moment, seeing a family who is just getting to know the Gospel, who truly want it and put in practice was is taught, simply fear big steps like going to church, marriage, and baptism. God loves all His children and I learned then that I need to love them all individually, push them, yet to their own resistance. All God`s children are different and it was sweet to see a family who knew or felt nothing about God 3 weeks ago are now seeing the sweet blessings of having family prayer morning and night.

I know it is a small story, yet my entire week was full of small, sweet experiences like that. God wants us to be obedient, He gave us Agency AND WILL GIVE US THE BLESSINGS as we use it correctly. We will see progress as we keep praying, or begin to do so. Keep reading, or begin to do so. Keep going to the church and temple, or begin to do so. Personally and as a family. God places the right people in our way, He places the perfect experiences during our day and we shall see and we shall rejoice as we simply obey.

I love you all! My time is up, sorry, Happy Halloween!

Elder McGinn

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Email - October 24, 2011

We had ward conference this past Sunday and I simply wanted to thank you for the family you are and for how faithful you are in the Gospel. Pres. Rodriguez talked about how the testimony of the children comes from the faith of their parents and that is so true and continues out here for me. Families are so important and so in need of hope out here.

Anyway... about me! Haha, I can't lie, it was really hard to see Elder Hasvold go. Goodbyes need to be done quick and the work must carry on. We had so much fun and I can't wait to keep in touch with him, a life- long friend there. My new companion is... Elder Gonzalez! He is from Nicaragua, is in his 21st month in the mission, and I'm training him to be a Zone Leader! We've got to make good friends BEFORE we hike the mountain today or he'll hate me too haha. I got to know him (like Elder Flores) when I first arrived in the mission in Portoviejo, it's fun to see old friends again. I'm nervous and excited to be with him and training!

Sunday was rough with the attendance at church, but we know where to go from here and November will be an awesome month! If all turns out well, we should be baptizing WEEKLY here in November! This giant mountain has been lifted and is moving! We are always looking for new people out here, that is the fun and tough thing of our mission in Ecuador, there are so many people who will listen BUT we want those who will act and progress. We literally fight to find those who are prepared and not simply those who will listen and feel happy. We are seeking the 'Chosen Vessels' as Moroni calls them and the Lord has put a few in our way!

I feel the need to share with you the simple joys that come in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we are visiting a lady named Erlinda and her son Alexander is also baptism age. It was so sweet as we passed by one day, she was on her way out, but she expressed how excited she was with the changes in her family... why? She and her son are reading the Book of Mormon together each night! She rereads it to understand, they are now praying as a family even though her husband won't, and she is excited to come to church. Whether you are a member or not, let us learn from this. She feels a change that is hard to describe (The Spirit more abundant) that is helping her overcome trials that seem too big to overcome (hope in the Gospel) and WHY... they have one, family scripture study from the Book of Mormon; two, they have personal study and strive to understand and apply what is read; three, they are praying as a family because they know what is best; and four, they are making sacrifices to be able to go to church (Make and Keep covenants that assure a Family Forever). I was touched in seeing how simply the Gospel changes lives and brings a new hope into the home. That is a promise for Members and Nonmembers for we are all under God's Radar.

The mission isn't easy, but neither is Salvation. The difference is maintaining the vision and the effort to be with God again. Christ suffered for ALL and loves us ALL but didn't simply die for us and say 'Go for it, good luck!' He left the scriptures, prayer, prophets, the church, the leaders there, family, priesthood, fasting, THE TEMPLE. Christ died for you and for me, He does say 'go for it, good luck WITH THE TOOLS I HAVE GIVEN YOU and we shall see each other soon.' There is no time to get down, there is no time to slack off either, simply time to secure our heavenly home and the hope in others that they may have the same.

'Dare to be a Mormon, Dare to stand alone, Dare to have a purpose firm, and Dare to make it known!'

I love you all so much! I haven't fallen since that one day, I'm still happy as ever, I may have lost weight, yet nothing stops ole Sasquatch from running! Love you all!

Elder McGinn

Monday, October 17, 2011

Email & Pictures - October 17, 2011

Me and Elder Hasvold sure have had a blast here and have even got down a sweet British Accent... in English AND in Spanish! We just pass time working and laughing. He has taught me a great lesson to work hard and to always be hopeful of the future. Here are a few pictures that I liked from Zone Leader Counsel... A bunch just got called from our group, like Elder Bushnell, and we snagged a picture with the Zone Leaders from our group. After the next change, January, I will be one of the oldest Zone Leaders... weird. Also, all the leaders wear their nice ties at Counsel... well we decided to wear our nastiest ones and we got a good laugh out of Pres. Amaya. There's a picture of Elder Hasvold and I with our nasty ties.

Well I told Mase I'd relate a crazy story about boogers, sickness and drool... here is my week...

So there was this lady with 3 little kids trying to drag a propane tank up to get it changed. We offered to help and ran it over. It was light, but with the gas it got pretty heavy to return. We took it back for her and joked the whole time about falling on the slopes with the tank. We get to the final slope before her house and Elder Hasvold took a big turf and the propane tank AND his companion on the other end came with him! I saved myself, like the tree cat I am, yet I was laughing so hard cause it was so funny that I about fell over and noticed a huge string of drool from my lips! Well that was really embarrassing... there went a nice contact opportunity.

Then at the end of the week there was this old lady with a deformed hand and walked with a nasty limp and cane. We offered to take her heavy bag and help her up home... turns out her home was a long way up. We got up to her house and I faced a huge culture shock as we saw a little coffin-shaped cart up on a rock with a table next to it. THAT was her house! She climbed that rock faster and better than we did haha, but what a house! She lives in this little bed on top of a rock, covered only by a tin roof. She lives off a piece of bread, an apple, and milk every day and 7 dogs. She was a little crazy as she showed us goose skulls and animal bones that she collects and so we got out of there quick. On the way down, after this old, gimp lady climbed that like a mountain goat, Elder McGinn took a big doozy and turfed it big time in dirt and gravel! That and a few other crazy experiences made that day just wonderful, let me tell you. The key is to simply enjoy life, laugh at yourself, and have fun the right way.

Let's end on a spiritual note... We had Zone Counsel and I was SO happy to find out that the 4 people we had been preparing for baptism in Manta got baptized as I took off! Oh what a great feeling to see the work progress in sectors or with companions that you've had. We've been trying to clean and raise a program here in this ward I'm in and things are getting cooking! We've found many new people to teach, seeking the chosen and prepared ones, and we should have one rocking month in November, hopefully we'll get this sector that hasn't baptized in months to be a Weekly Baptizing Ward... that's how it's looking now.

I want to share a sweet story about how the spirit truly guides those who listen and that God does so to touch each of His children individually. So we've been trying to get this ward up and running again and it's been tough. The other day we had no one at 11am yet the image of a member's house stuck in my companion's mind. He couldn't even remember their name, yet described where and we put them down. We had no clue why. When we got there the next day the family was surprised and let us in to share something with them, it was a struggle to get in, you could tell they were stressed. After conversing the mother finally asked 'So is there anything we can do for you Elders?' I said we felt the need to come share something with the family and she just broke into tears. The other day she had been upset with God and was even doubting their temple sealing and her activity in the church. She was simply pleading for an answer and we happened to show up. The hope we gave them, guided by the Spirit, was so uplifting and so beautiful! They committed to go to a sealing session together and remember WHY they got sealed years ago. She came to church AND invited us to lunch in this coming week. It was so beautiful to see how God guided us to His children in need through simply actions and how an eternal family has been given an extra push on their way. Do ALL you can to have the spirit and follow the smallest impressions! Do ALL you can to smile and be patient in your family relations for they will be eternal if you do your part here on earth! Keep the eternal perspective in mind, it is so beautiful and so worth whatever sacrifice or trial!

We've having a blast out here, it is the last P Day with Elder Hasvold, we enjoyed Subway today. He will be flying home on Tuesday, so I am about positive I'll have a new companion next week! 3 in one transfer! I love the Work, I love the Lord, I love you ALL.

Elder McGinn

Monday, October 10, 2011

Email & Pictures - October 10, 2011

Well Well Well... if it isn't Monday again!

I am doing great! It sounds like you all are too. I hope you get a feel for the sector I'm in as you see the pictures I sent! Time is flying by, my companion Elder Hasvold has 15 days left here in Ecuador! Haha and Mase I think I'll be joining you with the bald head soon... I don't know how bad it really is cause the lady that does my hair buzzed it down real nasty short.

Anyway... We had an awesome baptism this week! We finally got baptized the father of a family that Elder Escalante baptized (my comp in Manta) almost a year ago! He is awesome, had read the Book of Mormon once through, lives better than many members, he's the man. Simply lacked a few final touches to feel completely good. That's the first baptism our sector has had in almost 3 months, we're about to be up and running again!

We are simply having a blast out here with Elder Hasvold, it is so much fun. We are putting into play Plan Sputnik... yes I did come up with that name... and it has to do with Interchanges. We are sending Elder Hasvold to every sector in our zone before he goes to do interchanges. He takes the good companion to counsel him, motivate him, and help him work while I run the 'Bad Guy' up and down the nasty hill here haha. It is an evil plan, but it is working quite well! We've got an awesome Zone. Plan Sputnik in Action.

We've seen a few miracles and blessings in simple Gospel Principles. One comes with the man who was baptized. Cesar Choez and his family. He had to fix some things before his baptism and all is well, yet it was rough on his wife. We had a sweet lesson on repentance and forgiveness and it was hard for both of them. We committed them to forgive each other from now for the rest of their lives and there was an awkward silence for awhile, they never answered. So we finished with a prayer and asked the wife to give it, she gave the sweetest and most sincere prayer. She prayed for the help to be able to forgive her husband cause she couldn't find the strength to. There was such a sweet peace that filled the room, we were blown away and it was amazing to snag a picture of Cesar getting baptized with his arm around his wife in true, to-be-eternal love.

Forgiveness is hard, so is Repentance. It's hard for both sides, yet it is possible. Sometimes we cannot do it alone, many times actually. Yet as we turn to the Lord with our HEARTS set on where we want to become, though if may be tough to change our actions, God seems to be able to change hearts. I learned the beauty of repentance, forgiveness, prayer and seeing a family that is on their journey to an eternal home.

The second story comes from a family Ordeñez Wong. The husband was baptized years ago, but is inactive. His wife is not a member. They are in their 30's. Gonzalo has a brain tumor and was supposed to die 2 years ago, yet miraculously is still living. He works half days, it is a struggle, but it keeps him out of the house and his mind on better things. He has been tough on us, yet accepted our visits as long as we don't talk about the Book of Mormon. The first visit we got them to pray as a family and we saw miracles as he is more happy and optimistic. The next we talked about sealings and they got so happy and hopeful. Tonight we are to head back and tell them WHY with the message of the Restoration. He doesn't know why he's alive, he doesn't want to be alive. The wife now has a glimpse of what he felt years ago on being baptized and is beginning to see the true unity that comes in living the Gospel and praying together. There is nothing they can do to stop the time on Gonzalo's clock, but they can live every moment until then. They are opening their eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The way by which we will assure a family forever... no matter WHAT happens here on earth... as long as WE are faithful!

I love this Gospel, I love this Work. It has been hard, but it always helps to stop and count your blessings as Elder Richardson (our stake baby!) and Mason shared with me. We need more people to teach, we are almost opening and cleaning a sector, yet we are having a blast running up and down this hill. There is no better work than that of the Master.

I love you all!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Email - October 3, 2011

I LOVE CONFERENCE! That was absolutely awesome, and it's crazy to think that I have one left! I'm glad you all enjoyed it and it seems you are all happy! I was happy... why? I had awesome pictures of this crazy hill I'm on to send you, but my memory decided to quit working... it'll be next week it seems.

Well sorry, my head's a bit out of it for the heat, the internet cafe, my memory that's not working, and all we have to finish up doing today, but I'll try and get you all out an organized message today! We watched conference in the stake center in our own little English Room. There are 7 of the 14 elders in our Zone from the US, it is crazy! That never happens. I absolutely loved it, we had a few investigators there and should be having a baptism this weekend, we'll see how the interview turns out!

Thank you for your love and support, I am just having a ball with Elder Hasvold. I was intimidated at first, and still am haha, but we simply have fun. We work crazy hard, we get along really well, and the work is just flying. We are preparing for a few baptisms this month in a sector that hasn't baptized in almost 3 months. He is taking off on the 25th of October too.. so I'll have had 3 companions in this change . And Yes Dad, Pres Amaya likes to send the AP´s off to finish the mission working. I am taking advantage of every moment!

Conference was awesome, I learned a lot and was strengthened a lot. God does answer prayers when we seek the answers, they are all around us. There is no better work than what I am in right now and what you all do in your daily lives. I learned the importance of temple work, the importance of being strong and doing the things we know we should do to keep us strong in this ever changing world. I learned how to be bold, remember personal importance and the importance of working against our trials. My testimony was restrengthened on the importance and the beauty of life offered in following the Savior. He truly loves us, He knows who we are and what we can become. As we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall fulfill all of our wildest dreams AND His. I am so grateful for the family I have and what they have done to support me. I am grateful for the wonderful examples you all show of perseverance and hope, that is what life is! Being a good example and living off the ones you see around you. I am so happy in the work I am in, the trust God has for me and the love of His Son Jesus Christ.

We are working like crazy to see miracles here in 26 Febrero and the Zone Prosperina! If you wouldn't mind keeping Cesar Choez, Jorge Ana and Luis y Mirella in your prayers this week, they are in our plans and need whatever extra boost you can bring them to finally conquer their fears and accept the Savior as the Man and Brother we know Him to be. I love this Gospel, I love my chance to serve the Lord and simply strive to make the most of every moment! Keep a smile on your face, that is the best service you can do for yourself and those around you.

Sorry for the short letter and I know it is spacey haha, but I love you all and will hear from you soon! We are having a blast out here!

Elder McGinn