Sunday, January 29, 2012

Email - January 28, 2012

Thank you all for your love and confidence, here's how my new week went!

It is different serving here now. But your plane of people to serve expands and your desire to make the best use of proselyting time is multiplied. We are working so hard in so many areas. On Monday we went to 'Salinas' (5 hour round trip) on Tuesday to my crib... Portoviejo (8 hour round trip) and Wednesday to Los Ríos (4 hour round trip) to do some errands with President. We are with him a lot, we talk a lot and I am learning so much on how to be a better leader and disciple to influence others to do the same.

This week we have a few big trainings with all the Zone and District leaders in the mission and then the new missionaries and their trainers. It is a blast being in these trainings. We try to leave at 4 each day to teach, we want to baptize like crazy and we have seen some miracles, the chosen people and falling in our path. It's not always easy, and we get rejected a lot on street contacts and tracting, but we have met a few chosen people and are preparing a few baptisms for February. We have to take good care of the people we teach here, Satan works really hard and someone can fall really quickly in their desires or hopes. But last night was funny... we had a lesson with a referral from a recent convert that went like this...

Hello, how are you?

Good! I want to go to your church.


I like God and feel the need to come to Him.

We attend Sundays at 9, will you come?


Will you be baptized?


Is the 18th of February okay?


Here's the Book of Mormon... will you read it and ask God if it's the Word of God?


Well... see you Sunday!

Haha, it was the fastest, yet most spiritual guided lesson I've had in awhile. His name is Andrés. He lives out of our sector, but his friend doesn't. Even if we don't baptize him, someone will and he will be content. The Gospel is so simple... Faith in Christ, Repentance Daily, Get Baptized or Renew what we promised weekly, Receive or Follow the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. It is so simple and so necessary. We should never get off the path and we should never declare anything but THAT path to be saved. That testimony has been strengthened daily here, don't waste time... plant good seeds in search of the chosen. There are many.

I love this mission, I love being here, I hit another missionary who jokingly told me I had 21 weeks left. That is NOT what I want to hear! Haha. I love you all and invite you all to get a piece of paper tonight and write impressions that come to your mind as you pray. God is a Being who speaks, do we listen? What does He have to say? As you pray tonight, pay attention, write things down, review them every now and again and you will come to know God more than you thought you could.

Elder McGinn

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Email - January 21, 2012

I've caught you all unawares... How Odd that Elder McGinn is writing on a Saturday... I will NOT be sending Elder Ramos home, I got Changed! After 11 days I got changed (but I feel good cause we baptized 2 people and have prepared two more baptisms there by the end of the month).

Well I got changed! I am now in Guayaquil with Elder Hancey from Centerville, Utah (that means fun transfer) He has two transfers less than me in the mission. President Amaya called on Sunday night to ask how things were going in my new zone and then gave me a new assignment. The assignment to serve him as his AP. It was a huge surprise, but I am so happy to be here with Elder Hancey. I've been here since Monday, but our P Days are Saturdays and I'll warn you beforehand... we may not write each week in case of crazy trips or special assignments, but normally you will hear from me Saturdays. It is weird being in the office more and in the field less, but I love all we do.

My first assignment was to receive and train the new group of missionaries with their trainers. I love seeing the joy in their faces, their motivation to work, their love for their families, yet their stronger love to leave them for the Lord. We got to go through the temple with them, train them, eat with them. I will be involved in being with President, doing transfers, training Zone Leaders, New Missionaries with their Trainers, and special missions. We go to work from 4pm til 9pm normally, but for example... Monday we have a big trip out to Portoviejo, where I started the mission. I'm new, but I'm stoked and grateful for God's trust in me to serve here. Pray for me!

I loved being with Elder Ramos, we simply had a blast and got in 4 baptisms (2 I won't see) in our time together. We simply loved each other, loved the Lord, loved being obedient and making the other missionaries see the same way.

My spiritual experience will be what Mother wants the ward to hear on Faith...
I was assigned to be a District Leader in April and had fun learning my job and learning a new sector. My 2nd week in I did a baptismal interview for a lady named Lorena . She had gotten to know the missionaries and turned her life around 180 degrees, as you can imagine living on a pretty beach, a bunch of fishermen that don't pass time at home and a lot of alcohol. It was a very spiritual interview as Lorena shared her testimony and her fear... her husband had been at sea for 4 months and didn't know a thing about her baptism, yet she felt the strongest feeling that it was true. She passed the interview, yet didn't get baptized... her husband found out at sea, got a hold of her and told her to wait 2 more months til he'd be home. 2 weeks later I was changed, assigned to be a Zone Leader in the same Stake, just where Lorena lived. That week she had had the strongest impressions to go ahead and get baptized, and in spite of her husband's counsel, she did it! I interviewed her and got to see her baptism. She was so faithful and brought friends to listen to us also, yet living in fear of what her husband would say.

He came home months later, not upset, but not wanting anything to do with us. We tried so hard to teach him and it was difficult, Lorena was the key there. She was a constant example as she read the Book of Mormon daily in spite of her poor education, prayed daily and invited him to pray, went to church and invited him to church. Her husband normally is gone 6 months, home 1 month, and when it came time for him to go, the boat broke down and he was here. He started going to church, yet rejected baptism. Came to church hung over a time or two even, but he was there! During this time, Lorena never quit reading, praying, and going to church, even through changing houses, being robbed and a near divorce. Her two biggest dreams were a temple sealing and a missionary son. Finally, one Sunday, 5 months after interviewing Lorena to be baptized, we were in their house and invited him to be baptized. He stuttered, but finally said yes to the preparation. We were blown away! That night I was changed and so bummed. I had lost all contact with them! A month later we met as Zone Leaders and ran up to my last companion to see how they were doing. He looked at me with the happiest smile and we rejoiced in hearing that he had finally been baptized, the day before going out to sea for 6 months... but he went out to sea with the Book of Mormon in his hand and knowing how to pray.

That story is a very firm example of faith and in many aspects. Lorena had to change her life first, have faith in the Savior. Then she had to maintain her faith with hopes of getting her sailor husband baptized to be sealed. We had to maintain our faith in the same. Sebastian,the husband, had to exercise great faith to listen to us and prepare for his baptism with the nasty environment of being a sailor, the alcoholic influence, and the scorn that would be given. We all chose the Savior, though we all took our own time needed, and in the end the family of Lorena and Sebastian are one step closer to sealing their family.

Let us all be faithful like they were, to have hope in a wayward friend, to have hope in yourself, to have hope in God.

I love the mission, I love my God, I love my Savior and know it is Their Work! Love you all and will hear from you Saturday!

Elder McGinn

Monday, January 9, 2012

Email - January 9, 2012

I did get changed and one week early! Changes should be this coming week, they changed me on Wednesday. My comp is happy to show me things and I'm happy to listen to him haha, it'll be rough to write you a lot today. But so you can see something way cool, if you didn't know beforehand... look up the following on, under Tools you can go to the Maps. Look up Ecuador. I am in Samborondón, Guayas, Ecuador and it is HUGE. My sector, no joke, is from Provo to the outskirts of Salt Lake City. I am in a stake called Durán. Durán is the city next to our city, you cross a bridge and a huge river and you are in our city.

In our sector, so immense, just us two are there. I've been here since Wednesday, it is massive and it will be so hard to get to know my sector... why? This week I am being sent like Sputnik on Interchanges on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to train and get this Zone up and going again. I'm stoked! I am the only American in the zone of 12 elders. My comp is from Nicaragua also and I was in the same house with him in Vinces! Elder Ramos. He is awesome, really funny and we will have a blast. I will be sending him home, he is going home in the next month or two. This sector is crazy and like the Plan of Salvation. We have from Outer Darkness (the crazy fields and jungle) to the Celestial Kingdom (where we ate in Tony Romas today). It is a tough sector, the success here mainly comes from making your zone (the other elders) really good haha, but we'll do what we can! I am happy to be here and we will have a blast.

Well a quick story to let you know I AM working haha, it was touching. We got in a taxi last week, my comp up front. Neither of us said a word for a few minutes, I was memorizing a scripture. I began to feel the need to talk to him, an annoying impression kept bothering me. Just turned out that I was passing over Moroni 9:6 about how if we don't work, we condemn ourselves and the Spirit kicked me good. I decided to open my mouth, I asked him how he was doing and a miracle happened. He opened like crazy and was considering the miracle God had granted him last week when a robber got in his car and pointed a gun to his head to kill him, yet left him alone. He was wondering why God would save him like that, why he was needed in this life and why his family continued to have problems. He had ideas to start to read the Bible as a family to thank God for all He had done for them. All of this was racing through his head and what would've happened if we hadn't opened up to talk with him. A lost moment. He was so happy to talk with us, we wrote down his info. Missionaries will visit him and he truly was one of the chosen people, prepared by God for us in that moment. I am so glad we didn't lose that moment, I am so glad the Spirit bugged me to quit doing something good (memorize scriptures) for something better (help someone in need by listening). I hope he accepts the missionaries and this gospel, that was a sweet experience that strengthened my faith that there is a God above who knows us perfectly AND those around us. He trusts us and wants us to know that, trust in ourselves, and help those in our way. This work is perfect. This work is eternal. This work is about progress and getting to know God personally. I get to know Him better each day and boy do I love it.

Have a great week and know I love you!

Elder McGinn

Monday, January 2, 2012

Email - January 2, 2012

Haha, I'm glad you all enjoyed Chinese! I bought and saved chips and salsa to enjoy the night! I would send pictures, but the computer would rather that I not, so you'll have to wait a week! But it was crazy here, we woke up at midnight to watch things burn (fireworks, papermaché people, and the drunks) and after 5 y pico minutes we went to bed again. We were the only ones awake in church that Sunday.

It has been a huge learning experience, I have grown a lot and I hope to continue to do so! Something impacted me the other day, we have an Objective as Missionaries. Invite others to come unto Christ by receiving the restored Gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End. YES we want to baptize but what is often overlooked is our job to bring others closer and more like the Savior and it is done in many ways, I will share one 'mas adelante...'

Dad... I know I ripped on you months ago for bringing up how much time I had left and forgive me now for this comment... WOW how time flies! 6 months!

Well Mother (and to the rest of you who seem to be dropping eaves) asking if I have any candy left from the package is like asking if they have breakfast without rice and some kind of banana... of course not! Haha it is all gone, and it was enjoyed very well. And, to your utter disgust, except Mason's, I ate the peeps in a matter of seconds. Mmmm doggy! Well my New Years was filled with drunks, things that burn and 'Chuchakis'... that is those who are hung over the next day. It was interesting haha and glad I passed my last one here. It was fun and a great family sent us some dinner to share upon getting home, that was good! We woke up at midnight to see the whole shabang and I won't lie... maybe next year (or this year I should say) I will be preparing papermaché to burn on New Years Eve! What a fun tradition, no one knows from where it came, but things burn, so it is fun.

I wanted to share two experiences that happened this week that strengthened my testimony that God lives, loves us and is aware of each and every one of His children personally. I seem to share experiences like these all the time, but THIS is pure joy on the mission...

We had a really rough day in our sector and were trying to have success with the drunks around. We were going to go to a baptism in the other ward to support them BUT had to get in a certain amount of lessons beforehand to deserve it. We had a good day between our companionship and THAT was the key to what happened next. Walking up the street we passed by a member's house. The wife was there and instead of saying 'hello' whoops 'hola, ¿qué tal?' she said 'ya bajo' or 'I'll be right down.' I thought to myself 'that was a strange greeting...' but we waited. She came down the stairs, sat down and instead of shaking our hand she began to cry. She cried for a few minutes. She then opened up about problems in her family and how she has felt so alone, so insecure and so afraid. She didn't know what to do and was lost in life. She continued to cry, we continued to listen, we assured her that what she was doing was okay and that all would turn out well, we hardly said anything, but she then said some of the most sweet and sincere words... 'thank you for letting me trust in you, I've always looked to missionaries as angels.' We were angels that day, we were instruments in God's hands to touch a daughter of His that desperately needed us. We didn't say anything! We simply listened. Many people know what to do, many people have already decided their decisions, they simply need someone who will listen and say all is well. I KNOW that we were able to touch her heart because we were full of the spirit in our companionship. We were united in thought and action, that was a huge factor. We didn't to anything special, just reacted at the right time and in the right moment. BE that type of angel for someone in need, there are many.

The other experience came last night and is also small, but very dear to my heart. Remember what I shared last week about Jimmy Quiroz? We were there last night and had the most spiritual lesson and it was so simple. We had everyone bring their scriptures, we had everyone pick their favorite scripture, everyone shared it and why, then we did and we finished with a prayer. It was the first time they had listened to their brother, sister, mother or father talk about the gospel. It was the first time they had felt that spirit in their home. They grew in trust, they grew in comprehension, they learned more about each other. Everyone felt so important and the difference could be felt. I know it isn't anything huge, but miracles in the gospel are the little tender mercies seen in applying basic principles with faith. During the week we will teach them how to have Family Home Evening, maybe I'll put in the paper bag game ;) haha, but my testimony was strengthened of the good family I have in parents that give AND teach good examples, siblings who know each other and hear talks about the gospel often, siblings and parents who trust each other, it is the greatest joy I have ever had, knowing we are progressing to be eternal. How is it done? Praying as a family, reading the scriptures as a family, having fun together, having family night, doing service together, going to church together, eating together. What has been the key word here... together. Look up the first part of Helaman 6, before it talks about Satan and bad stuff... they key to success was sharing, whether it was gospel related or not.

This gospel is so simple, the Atonement is so real. Christ simply begs that we will be obedient and repentant and when may be sure of entering into the rest of Our God by having passed with Flying Colors. The family is the Key.

Happy New Year!

Elder McGinn