Monday, April 30, 2012

Email & Pictures - April 30, 2012

Well... looks like I'm going to have to extend a few more weeks, Syd won't get her braces off for another 3ish months. I can't see her like that! Just kidding. I sent you pictures of sandwiches we made and me up in my sector in Tarqui, it is a lot like Mapasingue and is so fun.

 This week has been FULL of miracles. I have a strong testimony of 'the blessings always come, even if they take awhile.' This week was crazy, I got to do exchanges with the missionaries from my old sector Mapasingue and that was a blast! We did a quick trip with President for a few conferences and meetings and great news with the investigators. I thank you for your prayers towards Sandra. We lost all contact with her, like with María Agusta, and finally at the end of the week she said she had a baptismal date in mind! That was unexpected. We hadn't spoken with her for almost a week. She is living faithfully the Word of Wisdom and decided to have her interview after church. She passed her interview with flying colors and after a lot of doubts, personal persecution and family issues, she will be baptized this Saturday! She has been a rough one, simply cause we haven't seen or heard from her hardly, but I am convinced of the power of the Book of Mormon, she has been constant, therefore she has been protected.

 Let me tell you of another miracle. Church last week was awesome. A girl named Ayda showed up with her family, they are all members but her. She listened for years to the Jehovah Witnesses. She loved church, we gave her a Book of Mormon and got a visit set for the next day (last Monday). We talked about church, taught the Restoration and invited her to be baptized and she said YES! She said that the night before she had had a dream in which her father had baptized her in the Baptismal Font in our chapel. She is progressing very quickly. We will have two wonderful baptisms this weekend. Eliana, our recent convert, is doing awesome and helping us visit and motivate these other two girls. She will be a great missionary, she is teaching her sister on the side cause her sister hates it when we talk about baptism.

 These past two weeks have been rougher ones, yet these past two days have been full of blessings for simply enduring FAITHFULLY to the end. I simply would like to urge you to continue faithfully. We had a Regional Conference yesterday where Elder Scott, Elder Christofferson, Elder Nash and Sister Cook spoke to all of Ecuador. That was a common theme and has strengthened my testimony. We KNOW the blessings will come, and if they don't come in the way we would like, we should remember the promise of Life Eternal, there is no greater blessing D&C 76:4-5.

 I love this work with all my heart. I have so much to give still and it will be given, there are no doubts of that. Just like track and just like Christ lived - we are going through the finish line, we are busting the tape. I know why I have come and for how long, we're not finished yet. Christ is my Savior, I love Him with all my heart. God listens to us as we pray and sends His Holy Spirit to comfort us. Let us do all that is in our reach to stay worthy of such blessings.

 Elder McGinn

Monday, April 23, 2012

Email - April 21, 2012

Well to answer your question Dad, we don't really know just how lethal the iguana is until you surprise it and grab it by it's legs. Then you get cut up and realize it was a bad idea. I'm sure there is a way to know, but we don't and it seems that the Ecuadorians don't either.

 Sandra is not getting baptized this week. We are going to slow down and get her good and ready for May. It is really hard with our travels and her schedule, she gets home each day at 11pm and leaves early in the morning. Keep her in your prayers.

 As for my week... let me tell you that it was an adventure that no other missionary has embarked. I interviewed John Lennon and turns out he is getting baptized! Haha... but this 20 year old youth does have that name and I laughed pretty hard. I didn't believe him at first.

 We haven't been in our home since Monday! Tuesday in the morning Elder Hancey and I went to Quevedo to work with the zone leaders before a conference on Wednesday. It is a 4 hour bus ride out to a jungly part of Ecuador. I got to work with Elder Molina again (the missionary I trained) and it was a blast. Wednesday after the conference we got on a bus from Quevedo to Portoviejo, another 4 hour ride. There is only one route, only one bus and you go through some really high, deserted mountains in Ecuador. It was the craziest ride and I know for a fact that we were the first missionaries to ever do that ride. Thursday we split up with the zone leaders in Portoviejo and worked and did baptismal interview (that is where I met and interviewed John Lennon) and Friday in the morning we got up early to travel an hour to Manta for the last Zone Conference. We got home last night around 10, but that tour was so fun! The only issue is... our sector sure is suffering. We haven't worked there for 2 weeks almost, but things will better for May. I really don't have much more to say, our week was a lot of conference, bus, and crazy jungle routes.

 One thing that was reinforced this week that I enjoyed relearning was the importance of seeing progress through God's eyes and not to our own judgment. It was fun being with the missionary I trained 16 months ago and see how much he has progressed (maybe that's cause I speak and understand Spanish better, haha) but it was also fun to see missionaries in the zone conferences who have gone through trials, suffered, hung in there and are much more spiritually mature and excited about the work. Progress is interesting, trials are too. The sons of Mosíah were on their mission 14 years and I love Alma 17:5 'and these were the circumstances...' it wasn't pretty. The city of Enoch took more than 300 years to become perfect and taken into heaven. Alma suffered immensely for 3 days till he was converted fully to the gospel. That is just how we are too. Time is the key with hope in our Savior. I love this mission, it has been hard, and I'm glad it has. I hope I am becoming the instrument He needs me to be and I am forever grateful for the help of God to let me see His children as He would and not how they simply seem.

 I love you all and am glad you are well. I have no doubts of that.

 Elder McGinn

Email & Pictures - April 14, 2012

Well... (I did it again) we had a bad luck experience for Friday the 13th. First off, to let you know about our exotic week a little better. Last week for my birthday, the other elders snuck an iguana in our room and put it under our bed, we didn't see if at first, but when we did... that thing was HUGE! It was crazy trying to get that out. So yesterday, Friday the 13th, we woke up and heard scratching up on the roof and we thought it was a rat up in the ceiling tiles. We hit a few tiles to rile it up and scare it off and we got down to pray. We prayed, then I finished my personal prayer and went to iron our shirts as Elder Hancey finished up his prayer. As he was praying, the ceiling tile broke through, and the nastiest looking dove that had been up in the ceiling for who knows how long was sitting there just as bewildered as we were! A bird fell through our ceiling onto my study desk! Elder Hancey jumped up startled and the bird was too, it pooped on my desk. Here's a picture of the critter. Happy Friday the 13th.

 Eliana DID get baptized! It was a beautiful meeting and she truly has exercised faith in the conversion. She has been coming to YAS activities even when it is just her and the president... and she is helping us teach the rest of her family. She was a chosen of God and will be such a great help to the kingdom. Sandra on the other hand, passed the interview with a few goals to work on and is preparing to be baptized next week!

 I don’t have many cool things to share cause we have been in zone conferences all week and next week we are going outside of Guayaquil to do the same. Next week will be pure travels and interchanges with the zone leaders from outside zones.

Before I finish, I want to share a scripture that impacted me. Alma 7:13. Elder Enciso had transfers and is now in the office, I was with him in Mapasingue. It is SUCH a blessing having him back, I truly love that man. He asked me a question in regards to this scripture, 'If the Spirit knows all things, why is it that Christ came down to suffer for us? He already knew how to help us...' I pulled out a few scriptures to help answer his question and as I went back to study the verse I gained a stronger testimony and appreciation of the Atonement of Christ. Though the Spirit knows all things, He still came down, I like that THOUGH, NEVERTHELESS, IN SPITE OF. He truly loves us, He wants us to know that there IS someone who truly knows how they feel. I was also touched about Him taking upon himself our SINS to erase our TRANSGRESIONS. Christ came down from His place on high so we could trust more in Him and come to Him anytime. He took upon himself all of our sins, each and every one. He will erase our transgressions. What we simply can't get rid of, remember, or erase (2 Nephi 25:23) as long as we simply try (Hel. 5:11) He has a power in redemption, we simply need to repent. He loves us so much.

 I testify that Jesus is my Savior, He is yours. He is our Redeemer and wants us to trust completely in Him. As we read the scriptures, our testimony of Him will grow. As we Repent daily, we will become more humble and more like Him. Then, as Moroni promised, we will be able to see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him. I love my Savior, this work is perfect. My Savior needs me, but I need Him more. We can't do this work alone and He never will leave us alone.

 I love you all and hope Friday the 13th went better for you than for me!

 Elder McGinn

Monday, April 9, 2012

Email - April 7, 2012

Thank you all for your remarks. Today has been one of the Best Birthdays! Why? A few reasons, now it's okay to lose hair, I am officially an adult. We went to the Zoo with Pres. Amaya and his family, we got Subway and ice cream. I am about to cover the Twinkies in cake frosting and eat them with Elder Hancey, and tonight we should have 2 baptisms! But we'll talk about me in a bit.

Well, this week has been filled with miracles. I love this work with all my heart. The family asked how Eliana, Joseph and Sandra are doing and let me just tell you. We went to visit Eliana after General Conference on Sunday and we had the strongest impression to invite her parents up. She is 23 years old, but didn't get baptized a few months back just cause she doubted and fell away at the last moment. Her family is very Catholic and we wanted them all to support her. We called the family up to listen and the lesson quickly directed itself towards the father who took lots of interest in the Book of Mormon and our patience to answer his questions. We simply taught him and testified of the Restoration, he committed himself to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know the truth. We then did something that required a lot of faith, confidence and spirit with the strong character of the father... we didn't tell him that his daughter Eliana was considering baptism and asked for his approval, better yet we INVITED HIM to her baptism because SHE prayed and SHE knows it is true. He was taken aback, yet a light shone on the timid face of Eliana to see if her father would support her. He thought long and hard about it and then answered 'well, it is her decision and if she knows it is true, I will be there to support her.' We have been on top of her this whole week to secure the baptism and we should be seeing it this afternoon! We weren't expecting results that quickly ,but she is chosen and it is her time. I am so happy, she is reading the Book of Mormon, she has passed through so many temptations and cliff edges, yet has come out on top each time. We are so happy for her.

How is Joseph? We haven't seen him all week... we're not sure. We are worried, hopefully we run into him tomorrow night.

How is Sandra? Now this story is also a tender mercy of God. She has gone to church many times and to many baptisms. Her Aunt and Uncle are members and she is living with them as she studies. She went to Conference last week and said it helped her a lot, yet we lost contact with her till last night. She could easily get baptized today and that was the goal of our visit last night - not leave without a baptism. We got there and began to talk about the Book of Mormon, she is past 1 Nephi in 2 weeks. She loves it and Conference helped her out a lot. She has had some crazy questions, but nothing to take her away from the feelings of the Spirit. We didn't know how to treat the topic of Baptism without simply doing it, so we did! She wants to be baptized but feels like she needs to know all things before she makes the decision. We told her that what she has felt is the Spirit and that she knows it is true, though she hasn't recognized it specifically. We invited her to ask God to confirm what she already feels is right. We then invited her to be interviewed today at 5 pm for her baptism. She never said Yes to baptism, but she did say Yes to the interview and on passing she said she'd be baptized. It was a spiritual battle and many times we had distractions or questions that could've taken us off course of the goal. Going into the lesson, the goal was baptism. We didn't know how, but we knew and felt it was necessary. I am so grateful for the guide of the Holy Ghost, we were divinely helped last night and we are praying that all goes well today.

We are seeing miracles here in Ecuador. Jeff (yes, you husband of Allie) invited me months ago to simply talk with everyone in my way and see the blessings. I never did it religiously until this past companionship and we are seeing fruits! We have been blessed with chosen people. Tonight could very well be 3 baptisms in 3 weeks in our new ward, and if not 3 in 3, it'll be 3 in 4 weeks. We are having such a blast sharing the gospel with all we can and God is helping us. The Spirit will always be our guide... yet there are conditions. As we do what we should and are attentive to act upon what we feel, we will always have results. If we don't know what we should, it doesn't work. It doesn't cut it either to do what is right, but not have the faith to act upon the guidance. If we hadn't invited Eliana's family to listen too, the baptism wouldn't be the same. If we hadn't spoken boldly and confidently about baptism last night to Sandra, we would probably be preparing a baptism for weeks down the road - if that.

Let us deserve the Spirit. Let us have faith to follow. Let us be humble to repent when we don't act. God is our Father in Heaven, He sent Christ to be able to return to Him and the Holy Ghost to have a constant guide. I do love them with all of my heart.

I love you all too, thank you family for being the best support I have had in the ups and downs. I am grateful for my eternal family.

Elder McGinn

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Email & Pictures - March 31, 2012

I'm glad all is well. I think I always say that, but all is well always, those are the blessings from serving. It's funny, Mase was speaking of waking up feeling like a badger cause that is my companion's favorite word, haha. You smell like a BADGER, or Oh Badgers, etc. I hope you are all enjoying the conference, we are trying to write in between sessions, so here you go short, sweet and savory.

First off THANK YOU for the package. You know a mother loves you when you forget to mention your favorite candy (Cadbury eggs and jelly beans) and they end up in the package! Doing Transfers this morning I shared Cadbury eggs with the 'Gringos' and they were all very happy. I got to open it one week before, and thanks for the Note to Self Cam, haha.

Let me explain the pictures, well there isn't much to explain. Guillermo got baptized! It was a wonderful ordinance and we are teaching his mother and brother, his brother has baptism plans in this month. Hopefully we should have a few baptisms on my birthday… that depends on attendance tomorrow. The other pictures are from a trip we took with President up to Bahía to watch a beautiful sunset and then another in my home town Manta, beautiful right? And well... my bed head picture in flip flops with Houses of Caña in the back is from our morning stroll we decided to take in the cool little ocean city.

This week was full of travels, we hardly were in our own sector, but what a great week it has been. I have come so close to the Lord in this week as I truly find my weaknesses and try to sanctify my last 3 months out here in the country. I really hate that. This mission is the best thing that has happened to me, it has changed my perspective on life and therefore has changed my eternity. I have come to know the Lord and will give it till He says okay. I know this is a short letter, but as I conclude I want to share a great principle that has blessed me greatly this week.

Don't Regret, Simply Repent and Forget

We are progressing. We will find disappointment and things we wish we would have done or known, yet we cannot change the past. What we can change is the future. We didn't know any better or act any better but from there on out we can. We are progressing and progress is eternal. Thanks to Alma 42:4 we know how to fill our time on earth with things that will secure a heavenly home with many loved ones - Repent and Serve God. We serve God by being His instruments in helping His Children remember they are important, talented, and needed here in His Plan.

I love you so much.

Elder McGinn