Thursday, March 29, 2012

Email - March 24, 2012

This week was a blast! We traveled to do a few interviews, but this time we got to hang around with the zone leaders for a day and do an interchange with them. That was a blast, I simply love getting out and working. It is still hard for me at times when the people simply don't see the importance of our message or don't receive us, but all have their agency and I'm not here to destroy that. This next week will also have a trip or two, but I hope we get a lot of time here to work in our sector. It is unpredictable and we move on the call a lot.

We have seen a few miracles this week, one is a baptism that we are hoping on for tomorrow. We just need the permission of the father. We opened this new sector Tarqui and there was a 14 year old boy Guillermo who had been going to church for a week or two. We got to know him, invited him to be baptized and he is so excited. I'll share a bit of his story. He has a friend who is a member of the church who was down in the dumps and was going inactive. He then saw his buddy who isn't a member and was even worse off and decided to invite him to church so they could both feel better and maybe his buddy could get to know the church. Turns out his friend (Guillermo) loved it and went the next week alone, even with his friend out of town. He began praying, didn't know why he felt so good, but he liked it. He was living a life... let's say without commandments of God. But as we taught him, he was willing to take a 180 degree turn. He passed his interview with a rough past, but a bright future and should be baptized. That is a testimony strengthener to me about the importance of friends who invite, gospel principles that enliven, and changes that are worth the pain. This gospel is so beautiful and I am stoked
for Guillermo.

Something interesting happened the other night. We were running way late in the office and our sector is still suffering with few investigators. We were deciding between use the last hour to plan for the week or risk trying to find Guillermo who has no phone number and is probably with friends who lives far away. With an hour left we decided to jet, hoping God would put him in our way. Turns out a lot of things were put in our way. As we walked out the door, members drove by and offered us a ride, cutting 20 minutes out of time. We happened to meet a friend of theirs who we will visit this week and Guillermo was home! We were able to confirm his progress with the commandments and his baptism. We had another 20 minutes to spare and I had the impression to visit another baptismal prospect who lived way far away. It was a weird impression cause she normally gets home way late from studies and shouldn't have been home. As we started the really long walk, another member came by and gave us a lift. As we knocked on the door to simply drop a pamphlet off for her, not thinking she was home, she had come home from the University early. She was happy to see us, we shared the Restoration, gave her a Book of Mormon and are preparing her for baptism in April. We got thinking… what would have happened if we had stayed put? What would have happened if we thought all was well after finding Guillermo and not visiting Sandra? The Lord has a purpose, the Lord has a plan and it will be brought to pass by simply being worthy of and acting with faith upon Spiritual Promptings.

I am convinced that the mission is the Lord's University. I am convinced that the Spirit is the key in missionary work and in our daily lives. I am happy with the blessings I see for acting, the blessings I deserve for repenting, and the blessings we see in others as they decide to do the same. I love you all and thank you family for teaching me how to defend myself. Thank you for giving me deep roots to base a strong spiritual growth upon. I love you all.

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Email & Pictures - March 17, 2012

Sorry I don't have much time, we went and played Beisbol (baseball) with President Amaya and his kids with the office elders. It was a blast! I cranked a home run, a few triples, it was a flooded field from rain, but it was a blast for all. There's the group picture.

Ecuadorians do NOT recognize St. Patricks Day, haha. You made me remember a funny story. Last year I was with an Elder Salas, from Guayaquil, Ecuador. I put on my green tie, we studied and everything, and just as we left the street (thinking he knew too...) I pinched him so hard and laughed. He didn't think it was so funny as he yelled, kicked me in the shins and pinched me back haha. I then had to go explain the rules. We are playing tonight, no one has remembered, but we are going to get the missionaries that live with us real good.

María DID get baptized. She is truly converted. That baptism was such an amazing experience. She is flying in her reading of the Book of Mormon (anyone who reads will be converted and will be secure), we showed up and someone had hit the drain switch on the Font. All the water in there was running out and we stopped it too late. There wasn't water to refill either. That is why you see me with a bucket. It was raining like crazy and us 7 elders got buckets and a long hose to fill the font with 'Water from the Heavens' haha. It filled up faster than we thought and it was a wonderful baptism.

We just changed up wards, we were 4 in the same ward and that gets complicated, especially with us in and out randomly. There is another ward nearby that has been closed since December that we just opened last night! We've got a ward baptism tonight and a ward leadership motivated and ready to work with us. We went contacting last night, doing our best to stay in the unknown sector limits and it really is a miracle and blessing to be there. Almost everyone received us and it is a rich sector. That doesn't happen. We sang a hymn with the first family and he said sincerely after our visit 'you know... I get a lot of religion pamphlets and never read them, but I felt something different about you two and I am anxious to get reading.' We will visit them Sunday.

This last story was great. We felt prompted to walk down a last street before hitting the road home. At the end of the street we knocked on the door and an older man came rushing out looking a little stern. We told him we were Representatives of Christ and we had a message just for him. We asked to pass and he let us in. We sang 'Where Can I Turn for Peace?' and he thanked us, with tears in his eyes, for the hymn we had just sung. He wanted to know what he was feeling, we told him the Spirit. He told us that he wanted more in his life and opened up about issues in his family. Not even 10 minutes into his house yet, we promised him that peace through baptism in the church and he accepted a date to prepare for for my birthday! I have never had a first contact like that and I would love to have many more. We are opening this new ward called Tarqui (like my time in Manta) and we are so stoked.

I am a firm believer in the importance and the blessing of the Holy Ghost in our lives. There is no greater guide, there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing than to feel God's pleasure in seeing us touch one of His children as we follow simply promptings. Think of the last prompting you had and the blessings you saw. Let us seek more. As we are obedient, seek guidance and solutions, and move forward with faith we will see just how much trust God will place in us to perform miracles in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our own families and with our friends. I sure love you all and have a great week!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Email & Pictures - March 10, 2012

I should explain the pictures. One is of the crazy rains we are having, another is with Elder Trevor Schnepf as he became a trainer (he was in Uncle Tom's branch in the MTC), and the other two are of an awesome fruit called Guanabana (phenomenon 'doo doo do do do'... guanabana 'doo do do do') I absolutely love the fruit here. Thanks for your comments and your testimony, that helped me a lot. I am assured day after day that God answers prayers. One for what you said and two... María Agusta is FINALLY getting baptized!

Last Saturday was her baptism but she never answered her phone, neither did her friends which are members. She didn't show up to church either... we got way down and way worried. Then her buddies caught us after church saying she called them during the meeting saying she had a huge emergency and couldn't make it, but had 'made her decision' about baptism... NEXT SATURDAY AND NOTHING WAS GOING TO STOP HER. We got way excited! Then nervous again... we had a whole week without contact with her. Finally, last night, we got a strange phone call from her and I answered. Scared to death and with butterflies I listened as she simply wanted to confirm the time of the ordinance tonight. That was relieving! Tonight is her baptism and she is one of the most converted converts I've had, she is amazing. I'll send picture next week.

Speaking of converts, I don't know if I told you that the Ruiz Azúa family got sealed (María from Portoviejo) and that Jipson Mendoza (also Portoviejo) sent me a letter telling me he is heading out on a mission! He is off to Guatemala! I am so happy for him… that made my day. He is the convert that threw us out of his house and said 'I'll call you back when I want to get baptized...' Wow! Anyway...

This week was full of travels. We got hammered with vacations in Ecuador and traveling, so our schedule in our sector is close to nothing as we fix up everything. We are hustling to get a few families with baptismal date to finish up the month. Ah, so a funny story and then I'll finish with a spiritual one. So, we were in a training with the Zone Leaders last week and talking about finding new investigators and the doctrine behind that. It was going well! We have been talking with EVERYONE here and at times I feel like Thomas Edison, finding 1000 people who are NOT ready haha. So I went to share that with them... 'foco' means light and 'foca' means seal, the water animal. I screwed that one up and got a laugh out of all as I said that I feel like Thomas Edison who found 1000 ways to not make a seal. That made me feel like the time I screwed up one the FISH joke in front of Timp High School and hearing Mase's laughter in the background.

Last Sunday we had a cool experience that makes me so sure of the function of the spirit and the reality of the priesthood. There is a man, Wigberto, who is deaf and dumb, he is so active and makes us laugh. He is so loving and sometimes goes to teach with us. Anyway, he grabbed us the other day, he looked dead sick, yet was faithful in coming to church. He signed to us the actions of giving a priesthood blessing and so we went cheerfully. I looked at Elder Hancey and we thought the same thing 'He won't be able to hear a word of this blessing...oh well.' As my companion anointed him, the sweetest spirit filled our hearts and during the blessing I felt so guided spiritually, it was unbelievable. We finished the blessing, he was teary eyed, gave us a huge hug, and after the first hour he was completely fine. It was a miracle and strengthened my testimony that the Priesthood is real, that God knows His children perfectly, and it's not WHAT we say, but how worthy we are before acting, for we never know when we will be called.

I love this work. I love it with all my heart and am giving all I can to the end. In track we learn to run THROUGH the finish line, that is my goal. Christ is my Savior, he is yours. He loves you and me and wants us to come to Him humbly and be clean in action, mind and heart. This Gospel is restored and we can return to God through it.

Love you!

Elder McGinn

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Email - March 3, 2012

Glad you all got a laugh out of my pictures, it is raining blankets here! The rain doesn't stop, the other day we had rain that filled the street AND the 3 steps up to the church and was about entering under the doors. The worst is yet to come.

As for me... We had one lesson this week. This week was full of old missionaries heading out, new ones coming in, training them with their trainers, travels with President, training the Zone Leaders here in Guayaquil and today we'll have a baptism! I am mentally exhausted, but boy was it fun. That is a fun thing about being here with President, we learn a lot about him and we never fall into a routine. We are always coming, going, learning, training, he is a great guy. Next week will be the same with interviews and Zone Conferences!

Miraculously we'll have a baptism tonight, she is a truly converted investigator. In the 4 weeks we've known her she is around page 150 in the Book of Mormon, has gone to church in Guayaquil AND out on vacation in Salinas, we have little to no contact with her. She didn't get baptized last week cause of family issues, but we got a hold of her and she is excited to get baptized tonight or tomorrow after church. In getting to know her, my testimony of fasting and prayer has truly been strengthened. We've fasted for her, we always pray for her, we talk about her and study and practice for her. We can say that we truly have given all we can to see a miracle and we are seeing many! She had an interview and knows her stuff and wants to be baptized, yet wanted to be sure. She said the ordinance depended on her praying to God and getting an answer that very night. We tried calling her the next day, nothing... for almost a week. We were so worried, yet continued in prayer and faith and she is so excited. I haven't given more for any other baptism in my mission! Thank you for your prayers for her and for us, please keep praying.

No cool experiences from teaching this week... we had one lesson and no falls. The tree cat is limber again, limpy, but limber. Just wanted to share something that has changed my life and maybe I've already shared it with you. If so, I have a little study with it. It is about Doctrine, Principles and Application. When we correct people we attack application, sometimes it works and many times it creates frustration. Application might be 'pray more, don't get angry, take out the trash, don't put your towel under the bed, etc.' Application is how we use our agency. It is best to attack the Doctrine, the reason behind it. That comes in correcting and congratulating someone. I have been able to see successes and failures with this in my relation with other missionaries and know it helps. To put it into context I really like D&C 121:34-45 on the Priesthood but it applies to all disciples of Christ. It says in verse 36 that the Heavens are governed under the Principles of Righteousness... we would like our home to have that heavenly spirit abound. 37 then talks about the 'principles of righteousness' or so it seems.

Doctrine behind the Priesthood or being a Disciple - Verse 45... Charity and Virtue (how are my thoughts)
Principles, which can be applied - Verses 41-43... a bunch
Application, how it is or is not put into practice - Verses 37-40

The key to being a better missionary, son, father, mother, daughter, brother, sister, friend is loving others in action and maintaining virtuous thoughts which invite the spirit, as we learn to master the Doctrine through study and prayer, it will be much easier to kick pride, not force things upon others, love others, and the list goes on. I hope this makes sense, but let us look to the WHY, not just the WHAT. As we seek the WHY in our lives and try to understand the WHY or WHY NOT in others lives, we will be more able to love others for WHAT they do and help them change their lives.

I love this gospel, I love being a missionary. I'm grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who understands why, gave us His Son to know how to come back and allows us to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit to know what to do.

Sure love you all!

Elder McGinn