Monday, December 26, 2011

Email - December 26, 2011

That sure was fun. I was thinking last night and realized that we are weird. We had nothing edifying or constructive to say, it was all random… stories, sound effects, I love our family! I also realized something that I'm sure you missionaries will understand. I felt such a peace after talking to you all and a sense of 'I'm so glad I'm not there with them... cause I'm here!' It is hard, it is different, but there is no greater joy or sweeter sense than being here in the mission field trying to emulate the life of He who we celebrated this week in Salvation of my fellow men. I don't want to see you, well Skype was just fine haha. But I don't want to see you for 6 more months, I don't want time to fly by either. I am just too happy and there is so much to do with such little time. We are here in the service of our God, serving our fellow men, and I am a witness of the true happiness that comes in losing yourself in this cause.

I'm glad you all had a Merry Christmas and hope the phone call was fun and uplifting for you all, it sure was for me. I see the blessings of serving a mission in so many ways, my family is still strong, still progressing and we shall live forever.

Ah and thank you for the gifts! I LOVE the sweets, like always, and they will be gone in no time! Even though I should treasure them... I can't. The fruit snacks are already gone haha.

I should leave you with something spiritual today, I know it is small, but something impacted me this week. I was stressed, so was my companion, we were hurrying off to a visit and trying to keep our unity as a companionship. In flying down the street I saw an old lady who was waddling with a few bags of groceries and her purse. A small impression came to my mind to stop and help her. We did. We walked less than a block to her home, she was almost home when we stopped to help, but the sweetest spirit filled my heart and I broke into tears as we simply conversed with her, asked about her, listened to her, forgetting us, our problems and our cares. She thanked us for taking a load off her back, physically and emotionally. The rest of my day was wonderful and seeking unplanned service. That is the mission, that is Christ, That should be our mission. Be aware not of ourselves, but of others. Listen to THEM, share about THEM, help THEM, uplift THEM instead of listening to US, sharing about US, helping US or trying to uplift US. That is too much work to feel good and the falls are too hard and painful. Let us listen to the spirit, let us forget ourselves, let us be humble and love and lift, even if it is 2 bags of groceries a half of a block down the road.

I love this mission and know Jesus is the Christ. I know He died for me and that if I give all I can, I will gain a spot in Heaven with Him. Eso es la misión y lo que me esfuerzo por recordar y vivir todos los días. Eso es lo que trato de avivar en las vidas de mis hermanos ecuatorianos. No hay mayor sacrificio, no hay mayor gozo, los dos van a la mano y quiero atesorar cada momento que me queda!

Elder McGinn

Monday, December 19, 2011

Email & Pictures - December 19, 2011

Would you rather... real experiences from my week in Ecuador... (1) get bitten by a cat with rabies like one of our investigators or (2) have a shot put in your belly button for getting detected to HAVE rabies ? That last one makes me sick.

As for my week, all is well... as a Zone! Haha our sector is dead, but we are going to lift it up again. We had a fun party with 2 other zones with the Amaya family and we did a cool musical number as a zone. I sent a picture of a few from my group with our Santa Hats (the sister missionary Hna. Goerring is already home! Weird). It was fun and I absolutely love the temple. I can't wait to go through weekly when I am home, that is the best feeling in the world to know families can be together forever, also to know that the McGinn family WILL be for our faithfulness, to know that God trusts me to bring that same feeling surety into the lives of those here in Ecuador. I just love it. It is the House of God. We receive guidance from on high. The mission is to baptize, to edify the kingdom of God, yet there are many steps to get there and many other blessings and miracles seen for faithful service.

You have all heard of Jimmy Quiroz, a great investigator that is simply waiting for marriage to get baptized. Their family has been struggling, we did not know, but it could be felt as we entered the room. We had planned to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon as a family, as we always do, yet in the first prayer the strongest impression to teach family prayer came to mind. The husband and wife always pray, they are great, yet they have never done it as an entire family. Jimmy was taken aback, he was surprised yet excited like I had never seen. You could see and feel that there was a great desire to try it and receive the needed blessings. He was scared to call the family, we called them with him and he felt better, we understood haha, yet the sweetest spirit filled the room as we kneeled to pray. He asked me to offer the prayer, I did so happily. We prayed for each of the kids, the parents, their challenges and we saw one of the many miracles whose sweetness never dies as we finished the prayer. The family seemed happier, more united, more trusting from the Kid's and Parent's point of view. I know it is a tiny story, I know it isn't much, I know I have little time, yet I want to testify to you all here and now that miracles happen daily. They are the blessings of feeling what I felt in the temple, the reality of the plan of salvation, yet feeling it at home. It is from applying true principles daily, prayer, study, worship, service.

I testify that God loves you all, He wants us to return to Him and simply asks that we do it step by step daily as we pray, read and worship as a family. That is happiness and THAT is how I can be sure of my eternal family for we applied, apply and will always apply these principles. I am grateful for parents who love me and who teach me what is right, who correct me when I am wrong and who guide us all together just how we will be in Heaven. I love this mission, I love my Savior and I so happy to represent Him here in Ecuador. Time is just too short.

Elder McGinn

Monday, December 12, 2011

Email - December 12, 2011

So last week I beat off Rocky... this week I thought was even better. I'll tell it all in one phrase... 'If it weren't for you kids and your meddling dog I would've read the chapter you left me in the Book of Mormon!' We were teaching a lesson and all was great until I heard the familiar jingle of Scooby Doo! 17 months without hearing that and wow was it rough, but we won! If it weren't for me and my meddling companion, Satan would've taken control there, haha.

Anyway, this week has been good! A panic attack trying to save December and get January up and bumping again, but it feels great to have President's trust out in our Zone, we have changed it 180 degrees. We need more people always, we are here to find the chosen, those prepared by the Lord and we can't waste time with those who simply want to listen. The work is interesting here, you go from having many to having no investigators frequently in your search for those prepared by God. But we keep climbing this nasty mountain! I love the work here and it is so fun seeing the Christmas Spirit pop up throughout the Mountain. I love this time of year, no matter where you are in the world this Spirit of Christ and loving all shines through.

I thank you all so much for your prayers and support, I have honestly felt a guiding hand beyond my own this week and know you have all been helping me. It is getting so much better and I have an experience that touched my heart and humbled me that I'd like to share with you all. During the middle of the week we had a good morning study, an okay planning session, but as the day started things started to fall through the roof. It was a rough day between us two. We didn't see eye to eye, one would try to help the other yet nothing worked, we got annoyed with the little things and the day seemed to simply crash. At one point near the end of the day it seemed that we both, personally, had a change of heart. We had a sweet lesson on the Plan of Salvation to prepare an investigator for Baptism and we started to see eye to eye and have the spirit as a companionship. Sadly, we thought, the day was coming to an end just as things got better, as it seems to have happened this whole time together. We were wrong, we were both humbled with what happened next. My companion, upon arriving home, got really sick and had a terrible fever. We thought it'd pass, we were going to wait till morning, but it kept getting worse. We decided to give Elder Gonzalez a priesthood blessing. PAUSE... what would have happened if we had ended the night ticked at each other and happy to have personal time alone? I would not have been worthy to give that blessing. Things would have been completely different. I was able to put my hands over my companion's head and bless him as his loving Father in Heaven were there with us. It was a sweet blessing, he got better, we came closer as companions. The priesthood power is special, it is unique, it NEEDS to be preserved and is only done so by keeping humble, maintaining good, clean feelings and thoughts and I am so grateful that the Lord had that in mind as we saw eye to eye at what seemed the end of our day.

I know that was quick, but I wanted you to see in the short time I have that your prayers for me were answered. We are doing better, we will keep improving, there is much to go still. I love this work, I love this season, I love the fruits of diligence! We had a baptism last week and should have another this weekend!

Honor your priesthood, love those around you, forget yourself and serve others. I am trying to do the same and I testify to you that even though it gets tough, it ALWAYS comes through in the end! That is God's sweet plan.

Love you!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Email & Pictures - December 5, 2011

Well, I guess we should always start with something funny, for I have discovered the reality of a mystery that I found... stupid. The Mystery of losing ONE shoe and not both of them. How can you lose one shoe, shouldn't you keep them both on or both off? Haven't you all seen that, one shoe in the park, on the bus or in the street? Well I became one of those the other day. I went on an interchange with another Elder and I have little elastic straps outside of my bag. I put my flip flops there on the outside of my bag. I got to the interchange alright, with two flip flops. The next day was a different story and I'll forever wonder just where did that other one end up? We got on bus to meet up somewhere and finish the interchange, got home, worked the next day, but the next morning to get in the shower I only have one flip flop! I was bewildered, still am actually... but I now know that it is possible to lose one shoe and not the other. Today I've got to buy flip flops, let’s hope they have my size.

This week was a good week! We passed through transfers and I am still with Elder González. Three months have passed here on this mountain, and looks like many more, cause Elder Gonzalez goes home this transfer. That'll be the 3rd elder I've sent home! The week was full of interchanges and finishing up the last touches to move into our new house, but we did have a bit of success. It's been tough with my companion and with the Zone, yet my testimony was strengthened that there is a God above who knows me and loves me perfectly and does what He does for a reason. I decided to take my notebook and write down what came to mind in Fast and Testimony Meeting and it was one of the best meetings in the world, filled with revelation, filled with comfort, filled with repentance. God is a loving Father in Heaven who knows us, trusts in us and expects us to work. Yet from time to time also gives us comfort and encouragement.

I have learned really well in this past change and this past week that there is no time to think of or worry about ME. There is no ME time and as we worry to find that ME time we simply make life worse and more stressful, yet as we seek to forget ourselves and uplift others, we find ourselves more happy, more secure, and more satisfied with our own lives. An example... on an interchange with one of our District Leaders we had to contact, they don't have many investigators. I let him run the first one and we showed up, said hello and tried to share a message... what happened? The Lady listened patiently and then said 'thanks, but no thanks.' Our next contact I wanted my companion to see what I have learned in my time and my difficulties in the mission. We knocked on the door, another lady came out and we asked her how she was, asked what she was doing, asked her how she felt about life AND WE LISTENED. She opened completely and talked for a good 20 minutes. She then asked us a question about what we do, we answered her question promising her that this message blesses families and she asked us if we could come back tomorrow to share it with her. I know it is a small story, I know it may be dumb and I know I may talk about this subject a lot in my letters to you all, but a huge point was reinforced in those contacts... there is a difference when you forget about YOU and what YOU have to say and trade it for THEM and how THEY FEEL and what THEY have to say. We rarely talked about God or Christ, of course at the end we did, but MUCH of the Gospel of Christ and His teachings is simply living it and showing it towards others. It has been tough, but I have tried lately to apply that principle in my teaching, in my companionship and in my relation with God. We need to be humble, we need to be ourselves, we need to recognize that WE, ALONE, are nothing and not important, yet in a Group, as a Whole, as a Married Couple, Best Friends, a Companionship, whatever the relation may be, we are the world.

I don't know if any of that made sense haha, I hope it did, this Internet Cafe is a bit crazy this morning, but I have learned to love, I have learned to forget me and remember them, I have learned to ask and to listen not just to pass time, but to find how to help those around me better, I have learned that God trusts me, that He wants me to work in His glory... bringing to pass salvation in the lives of others (Alma 13:3, 6) and I am trying so hard to do it. I will finish with something I got out of President Uchtdorf last night... God doesn't ask perfection, He simply requires a perfect effort... that we give our best. (Mosiah 4:6)

I love this Gospel, I love this Christmas Season, I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I love you all! I will also love to have a full pair of flip flops by the end of the day...

Elder McGinn

I must explain the pictures I sent, one is the baptism of Kayla Gomez a few weeks ago with her family. Another is a pretty view I have every day up on Mapasingue. Another is when I walked by a tree and we got in a fight and it ripped my shirt sleeve almost completely off. Thanks to an investigator that gave me three paper clips, she gave me just what I needed to hold my shirt together till the day finished. (Paper clips to fix a shirt... I am SO in ecuador! haha, but it worked) and the last is of Rat Poo! We had a rat in our previous house and one night we discovered it's home and tried to kill it, I have many great pictures and we about got it with my leatherman.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Email - November 28, 2011

I'd prefer to see you on Christmas than call you... why? To SMACK you all for your comments on MY Thanksgiving! Rub it in, rub it in. OUR lunch... well the members forgot. We got a bit of the left overs. Rice. Chicken, Beans. Fried Bananas. Grapes. An Apple. Water. Anyway, I tried to forget all that.

I walked by a tree and we got in a fight and it ripped my shirt sleeve almost completely off. Thanks to an investigator that gave me three paper clips, she gave me just what I needed to hold my shirt together till the day finished. (Paper clips to fix a shirt... I am SO in Ecuador! haha, but it worked). We have a rat in our house and one night we discovered it's home and tried to kill it, I have many great pictures and we about got it with my leatherman. The good thing is we are moving houses on Wednesday! Anyway, I guess I should share something spiritual and not so worthless haha. Show my family that I do more than hunt rats, rip shirts and lose myself on a mountain.

This week was AWESOME! And before I get to the real great part, I should get all the wiggles out of me and share one last story. My companion and I knocked out Rocky. Yes, Rocky Balboa. We went to visit a family and had a wonderful lesson, we asked Rubén, one of the sons, if he had prayed about the Book of Mormon and if he should get baptized and JUST as we were getting good, one of the neighbors was watching Rocky 4 and blasted the volume, it was during a fight. It's ON! Us vs. Rocky haha, but as we got talking to him, midst the distractions, it strengthened my testimony of a loving Father in Heaven who blesses us as we put forth sincere effort. It's never free. Rubén came to tell us that he finally conquered his fear and asked God and that he felt such a peace in his heart that he had never felt anywhere else. No one else in the family prayed and they all have doubts, yet Rubén courageously and full of determination said that he knows it is the true Church and that he will prepare to be baptized the 17th of December! God answers prayers, you shall know the truth of all things if you simply ask God and seek the solution in as many ways possible. Rubén helped strengthen my testimony of Moroni´s promise. That happened in 2 other occasions this week with Rafaella (a 13 year old skinny girl who reminds me of Sydney and will be baptized this week) and Miguel (a 17 year old boy who does NOT remind me of Cam haha and will be baptized the 17 of December). God answers prayers, people progress, I have learned that here in Ecuador we must not lose time. Seek those who are ready and who want the Gospel, they are great in number, simply hard to find. We got our baptism goal in November with 17 baptisms! 3 Months ago this Zone would get 6 per month, the tides have changed. December will be even better yet!

But the best part of my week came with Elder Uceda. I have no doubt that he is called of God. We had a conference with him with a few Zones on Wednesday and then a meeting with us Zone Leaders on Saturday. It was amazing the things he talked about. We talked about many things pertaining to missionary work, but two things I would like to share with you all briefly were one, how to search and ponder the scriptures, not simply read or study them; and two, how to truly pray. He opened up D&C 4 and we studied verse 2 for a half hour. Oh my gosh! Haha it was amazing. Do we use the Foot notes? Do we use a dictionary? Do we ask why this or why that? He opened my eyes and I want you all to try it (if you're already good, okay, but if not, learn to perfect your scripture study!)

Alma 53:20-21 impacted me this week and will leave you to read it with a few questions in mind... What is the difference between Youth and Men, because verse 20 talks of the same group of Stripling Warriors but refers to them as Men in the end... why? What is the difference? How does that apply to me? In Verse 21, what is the difference between Keep the Commandments and Walk uprightly before God? They seem the same... are they? Did God screw up and repeat it or do they mean different things? Write me back and tell me personally what you learned! There are many ways and many interpretations. Well, I have no time left haha, but he also said that we don't know how to pray. We repeat, we don't listen, we never write what we feel, we don't remember what is said or asked, BUT we can improve!

I will end with this, out of all the missionaries there, he called out 4 to have an interview with. He called my name. After the conference he called me in to interview me. I sat in the same room and was interviewed by one of the Seventy. It was one of the best experiences in my life. He assured me that God loves me, He knows me, He is happy with my work here and will always support me. That was an interview I will never forget. God lives, He calls men in these days to support us and keep us on the path back to Him. Let us ponder the scriptures, let us converse with God, let us be obedient and let us remember the WHY behind what we do.

I love you all and will hear from you soon!

Elder McGinn