Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Email - November 21, 2011

Well we finished this week with another Baptism! Sorry, this computer is terrible so I cannot send you pictures. Oh well. She is a little 10 year old girl whose family are members. Her mother never gave permission until two weeks ago, it was easy, there was a lot of ward support and it was fun to see the ward get excited again. We continue to lift this sector out of the dust from where it was when I came! I hope you have one awesome Thanksgiving, THAT is something that is not celebrated here, only talked about when people are around me. We'll see if the members live up to what they told me about our lunch on Thursday... This coming week will be awesome!

We had a cool Zone Activity today to clean one of the Chapels. Elder Useda is coming and on Wednesday we have a meeting with him with a few Zones and Saturday with just us Zone Leaders, I am so excited to be so close to him and learn from one of the Seventy. There are 28 Zone Leaders in the mission of 200ish missionaries, that meeting sure will be great.

This week has been crazy with interchanges and rushing to secure the other baptisms in the Zone, but a few things have touched my heart in trying to become a better leader, companion, instrument, and down the road husband and father. I've been trying to be a leader more like Christ and a few things have touched me, I'll mention 3.

One is how He always said 'do that which ye hath seen me do...' He never mentions 'said, told you to do, etc,' He was a leader who led, loved, and lived by Example. The other is how He loved the Sinner and not the Sin. That has been really hard for me with patience and love, even talking about loving the Disobedient and not the Disobedience. As a leader, father, mother, husband, wife, whatever, we can never look at and state the obvious. It is so easy. Christ could love the Sinners, yet not the Sin for He sought the reason behind the action to try to understand those to whom He served. Many times we fall into this, but let us look for the reason WHY not the easy and obvious WHAT. Last, yet not least to His many attributes is the working with, not ahead of, others. He was so capable of many miracles yet walked and talked and inspired those He was around by being at their side and supporting them through the tough and the easy. In trying to apply these in my mission, in my sector, with my investigators, it has been fun to see a family come closer to each other and closer to the Lord.

Carlos Lopez is not a member of the church, his wife is reactivating herself and they have two kids. We ran into them weeks ago during our lunch at their house, we simply opened our mouths and he let us come back to visit them. At first his wife was doubtful of his progress, yet we tried so hard to understand them, show them the way, and guide them in their journey home to Heaven. A few of the first lessons turned into battles and blame throwing, yet they now pray as a family, come to church, read the Book of Mormon and get after us when we forget to give them readings. He will be baptized in December. People simply need a chance, from those at home and those around them in the world.

Another short story comes from today! We were buying groceries and a cart man helped us take the stuff out to a taxi. As we were waiting outside we simply began to ask HIM about HIS life. The important thing is not what WE have to say, better yet it is what we have to LISTEN from them. We showed interest in his life, he opened up about his family, work and we had an awesome friendly conversation. He felt so good, cause he felt listened to and loved. At the end, turns out he lives right by us and we got a visit with him this Friday. Pay close attention to how I finish this story. We ARE here on earth and in the mission field to talk of God and bring men to Him again, it is only through this message of the Restoration BUT he was so anxious to get a visit from us and read a pamphlet and we never mentioned out message, simply mentioned that we were missionaries and we live by him. Now I am NOT ragging on the things of God, yet I want to open your eyes at how easy and beautiful this work is. We simply showed him complete attention, interest, listened about his life and asked if we could come by one of these days. We preached the Gospel... like I said a few weeks ago... without words.

It doesn't matter if they are members, if they are not members, people and family and friends don't want to listen, they want to be listened to! Let us listen, let us serve, let us forget ourselves in this great cause and we will see that marriages are saved, children are taken care of, youth find a feeling of importance, and we all find meaning to life, our life eternal.

I am so happy here, I just love this work and am so grateful to have a family in Utah that loves me and has taught me so much. I'm grateful for friends who listened to me and showed their concern. I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who does the same if we simply give Him time in our lives.

Love you all and Happy Thanksgiving! It'll be about the same meal... banana cream pie, turkey, yams, potatoes - here it'll be bananas, chicken, fried bananas, squished bananas and how can I forget, Rice!

Haha love you all!

Elder McGinn

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Email - November 14, 2011

If it ain't the old gang again... well I wish you all a good day on my companion's birthday! We'll go have a ride on the town today. I have lost a lot of weight, but putting on my blue jeans today, I realized that this mountain has done my thighs and rear quite well! I love this work and it's fun to see the changes and progress! As for the work here, the mountain doesn't kill us as missionaries (the insane ones at least haha, I just LOVE running up and down the sketchy hills) and it's not that the people aren't receptive, they are just really lazy to be honest. With Elder Hasvold, in two weeks we found almost 40 NEW investigators, not just people we contacted and taught something, but out of those 40, maybe 5 have gone to church. The investigators would rather sit at home than hike up and down to an unknown church and the less active members would rather do the same than sit in sacrament meeting. It's been real tough. I noticed that the majority of the active members either live down by the church or on the slopes right above the church... less movement. That has been the biggest struggle, but Elder Gonzalez and I are getting it up again with 14 investigators at church the past two weeks! I have a story to share on the hill and the members to motivate you all, as it did me, not to rag on the work here...

Kayla Gomez got baptized! It was such a wonderful baptism full of family and friends from both wards, I'd send you pictures but the computer isn't my friend today. We will have a baptism this week and if all goes well, 2 the following week! We are finally lifting 'The Wart of Guayaquil... Mapasingue' haha, but the work is beginning to take flight, it has been so fun and very tough to get this sector up and going again. I just love the challenge.

Anyway, I learned a very important lesson this week, well it was retaught in my life this last Thursday. How important is the Sacrament to you? What does it mean PERSONALLY? For we all know what it means generally. How would your life be different without the Sacrament, or would you like to feel its utter importance in your life? Well we were visiting a 10yr old girl and less active family who will be baptized this Saturday and a few family members answered 'yes' when I asked them if it'd be easier to be active in the church with the help and faith of their parents? The inactive mother got offended and ran me up the wall with how she reads the Book of Mormon, prays and has never lost her faith. I didn't want to offend her, yet didn't know what to say. Then a strong spiritual impression taught me a lesson and then her as I shared what came to my mind. 'But... there is something you have lost... The Sacrament, and it's about time to get that back into your life.'

Now don't misunderstand me, SHE IS NOT THE BAD GUY IN THE MOVIE, the lesson ended well and it was such a joy to see her in church on Sunday and shake her hand, yet we all learned the NEED, not just the importance, of the Sacrament. Let us all think twice about the Sacrament. Why we take it? When was the last time? The blessings we've seen or those we'd still like to see? Like Elder Oaks said, Sacrament Meeting is the most important meeting in the Entire Church. Let us renew our covenant with the Lord. Let us be clean again. Let us become who God and Christ simply beckon us to become by repenting, as Elder Anderson once said. We may be doing all well, but without the Sacrament, we are kidding ourselves. Making covenants doesn't work without keeping them and always let us remember that God needs us with Him again just as we daily need Him and long to see Him again. The church is true, the Sacrament is my favorite part of Sunday and I want it to become my favorite part of the week. In speaking of covenants, let us get into the temple to make AND keep covenants, what a beauty, what a joy. THAT is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, LIVING IT! DOING IT! And trust me, you shall enjoy it.

This week, and my whole mission in fact, has been full of miracles and they shall continue! I love you all so much, I love this mission, I love the Lord, I love showing God that I need AND WANT His help by renewing covenants I have made with Him.

Love you all and will hear from you soon!

Elder McGinn

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Email & Pictures - November 7, 2011

As for me...I haven't showered in two days. We have no water. I took advantage and had a slick beard going on haha, but the water came back today and so did the razor. We'll have a baptism this week for sure! We're stoked, it has been a crazy week and big challenge for our sector has been the sector itself, this big mountain really gets in the way of church attendance. We keep searching for those who won't simply listen, but will act. I sent pictures of the hill, our Elders Quorum Pres. and Family, and Jimmy Quiroz who is simply waiting money to get married to get baptized. Everyone says that in simply one month I've lost a ton of weight up here! This mountain is a beast.

I want to share with you all something that has been on my mind all week. ´Share the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.' How do we do that wise guy? Haha Be an example of the believers. The Gospel is beautiful and so amazing, and just as the Savior shared from the Bible and the Book of Mormon 'así alumbra vuestra luz delante de los hombres, para que vean vuestras buenas obras y glorifiquen a vuestro Padre que está en los cielos.' We are the light of the world and that light will shine! The light is renewed as we partake of the sacrament and shines daily as we daily study the scriptures, converse with our Father in Heaven, serve others, hopefully front hurdles in life, attend the temple and the list goes on. Now I'm not judging you haha, but who of you that are reading this, that has the Higher Priesthood, has their consecrated oil valve with them? Yesterday we were given a moment in Priesthood and I asked the same type of question and the result was surprising. Men, carry it with you always. If you don't have one, get one, if you don't know how to use it, learn how, if you are struggling and may not use your priesthood, do what needs to be done and become that Father, Husband, and Son your families need! I had two experiences this week were I learned the importance of being worthy, being ready and doing as the Lord commands with His power. I had the sweet experience to comfort two fellow missionaries, down, depressed and hopeless; both moments started by heeding a spiritual prompting to forget me and both ended with two of the sweetest blessings of comfort and counsel I have ever been a part of. The Priesthood is to be used and I am so grateful that the Lord trust us with it!

As for the rest of you... haha just joking. But yesterday in Fast and Testimony Meeting, how many got up and bore their testimony? If not, when was the last time? I challenge you all next month to get up and bear your testimony and truly see the light you will bring into the lives of others. I got up to bear my testimony and it was a true joy to see people like you and me who pass through trials, yet we lean on God and seek His guidance to feel hope again. As I bore my testimony of My Savior and My love for Him, it was a joy to see faces soften, shoulders lighten, families sit a little closer together, couples that forgive each other, parents who receive hope, youth who have a spark light up inside. It was a beautiful experience yesterday, after a rough week, to get up, share my testimony, see the need of hope on the face of all present, and feel the hope brought into their lives upon listening. Like Jacob said, the word of Christ is 'the word that heals the wounded soul,' la palabra que sana al alma herida. You can do so much good for those who surround you. Be worthy of your priesthood men, young men; be ready to use it wherever you are; share your testimonies, look to satisfy the needs of those around you and your joy will be full as is mine. In the mission I have learned that there is no time for me! Though I just want to talk about me and I'm so wonderful, in this life there is no time to worry about me. Look to lift, Seek to Serve and God shall take care of the rest for you and those you love.

In closing, it has been fun to get to know and see changes in the Lopez family. We ate lunch there last week, the husband is not a member. WAHOO! They went from problems in their home, hopeless without work, to more love, hope and optimism in seeking a new job and happier kids. What was the key? They began to pray as a family. Morning and night. Carlos is happy, he wants to get baptized. He will soon. The Gospel changes lives, that testimony is reassured DAILY in the mission and I simply pray that each of you see the blessings of doing so...not cause you see it in others, but rather cause you have them as a family.

Cristo vive, el es mi Salvador y me ama tanto. El les ama a ustedes también y solo pide que hagamos caso a Sus mandamientos. La única cosa que une a las familias y lo hace para siempre es hacer las cosas que nos hacen dignos de entrar en el Santo Templo y hacerlo! Amo orar, amo estudiar las escrituras, amo tener la guía del espíritu y amo ver los cambios en las vidas de los demás cuando reciben la motivación de alguien que les apoya. Sírvanse. Apóyense. Ámense.

Love you all!

Elder McGinn