Monday, August 9, 2010

He's Home!

pictures to be added soon...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Termino con un Bautismo!

26 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

It is quite difficult to write now and the reason is obvious. So, I´ll just start talking about my week.

We had a miracle! Yesterday María Elena Román was baptized! As I explained last week, she wanted to get baptized for so long. She wanted her son to be baptized when he was 8 but his father wouldn´t give permission. He is now 32. Her parents were sealed in the temple with her brothers, but she was left out. She wants to be apart of that eternal family so much. I still remember our first visit, when I went with Elder Riggins. I knew of the problem, but through prayer, I received from the Lord that I could promise her that if she got baptized, her family would change. She changed during that lesson and decided she would get baptized, but when, she wasn´t sure. Only the spirit of the Lord could have made such a change within her.

She decided last week. Because of the difficulty with her husband, we had to receive permission from many people. First off, we prayed as a group and I felt strongly that we should give according to her desires. The scriptures of 3 Nephi of Christ having compassion on the Nephites ran through my mind. So, I decided in that moment to push for her baptism. At first, the bishop was against it (just as I was at first), but his counselor had an interview with her. Thursday afternoon, while having lunch at the offices during a training meeting, I received one of the calls that missionaries love. The Bishop said, "Elder, I just want to inform you that you´ll have a baptism this Sunday. My counselor says that you felt right, we shouldn´t withhold a baptism from her." In that moment, I got up and talked with the President because he was there. He gave his permission after receiving approval from the Bishop. But that wasn´t it, we had the interview with the zone leaders and then needed another interview with one of the counselors of the Mission President. But the counselor didn´t know where the church in San Justo was. So, we had to go with María Elena to Ramos Mejía. It was all quite hectic.

The baptism was quite lovely. She has a lot of family members who are church members here in Buenos Aires. A ton came to support her. It was great to see so much support for her faith and for her valiance. I don´t think I´ve ever seen such an example as her. And she gave me the honor of baptizing her. During the week, she was talking about her brother-in-law and I asked, "He´s going to baptize you, right?" She answered, "No, you Elder!" I was thinking "No! I want a member to do it!" But I responded that it would be an honor. And it was a really great honor to participate in such a way. So, Mom and Dad, you will have the opportunity to see the confirmation of her next Sunday in Sacrament Meeting.

So, about next week. I will show up at the airport at about 8 o´clock Sunday morning to accompany you to the church in San Justo. We will be in the car with you. I hope I´ll be able to guide you well, but I´m not afraid of asking for directions any more if we get lost. That night we (as in Elder Berglund and I) were thinking we might stay with you in the hotel. We might have to decide that on Sunday, but that might be the best. And Dad, there are a mixture of electical outlets, but I think I have all of the tranformers and adaptors, but if not, we can always go buy one here for about 5 pesos. They use the two round ones, or the plug that looks like a back slash with a front slash (this keyboard doesn´t let me use them both). Monday morning, we will have transfer meeting. It will last all morning. And there you will meet President Benton. You will hear his talk about the next transfer, I´ll probably play the piano, the transfers, and the testimonies of us who are leaving. We might be invited to the mission home afterwards or another day to get to know President and Sister Benton. The rest, I haven´t planned and I´m sorry, I won´t have much time to plan it out.

So, to end, I have absolutely loved my mission. I have been overviewing my mission quite a lot and I am so grateful for the tender mercies the Lord has given me throughout. He truely loves us. And this is truely his work. I realized that probably the only regret I have is not doing all the contacts, but I feel I worked hard, was obedient, and was a worthy servant throughout my mission. I feel I´ve fulfilled my purpose here. I have loved my companions and have never caused problems with them. I tried my best not to impede the hand of the Lord to God´s children. I have learned a ton and I know that He has a lot more to teach me. He is the Lord. This is the Church. And through the saving ordinances and endurance and obedience to the end, we truely can be with our families forever. I await that day to be with you all in the Celestial Kingdom.

With my love until I see you,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparaciones demasiado trunky

19 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

You´re right that now I am facing really mixed feelings. Every day the weight fall stronger onto my concious the fact that I´m going to have to leave the mission behind. Part of me is excited to experience the new adventures of going back to school and life as a return missionary. But for the most part, I want to keep serving the Lord as I am. I have seen so many of the tender mercies of the Lord that it pains me that I will have to accustom myself that they be fewer and farther between. I want to keep seeing the triumphs of the families here and help them in their trials. I love trying to do good things constantly. I´ll sincerely miss it. But I can´t wait to see you.

One of the strange things that has happened in my mission is the way that I´ve grown. I feel I´m a lot better person and I´m much better prepared to face life. But I don´t feel like I reached my potential as a missionary. Actually, I feel farther away from my potential than when I started because my vision has changed. But yet, I still face the same weaknesses. I realize that is what will make me stronger in my life, having to constantly fight those weaknesses and not having them magically taken away by the Lord. Another way I´ve grown is physically. When I got here, everyone thought I was 16-17 years old. Now they think that I´m 23-25 years old. So much stress tones the face a little more (but it might also be due to the way I act and the improvement in my language abilities). I feel that my personal progress will be a lot slower after the mission and I´ve always liked being on the fast track in learning.

In preparation to go home, I´m going to have to start being truely "trunky" and start packing my bags because next P-day will be our zone activity. I´m going to have to decide what to take home and what to throw out and what to give away. A lot of my clothes aren´t really worth keeping (the shirts are going yellow, holes in all of the shoes including the tennis shoes, my black suit coat got ruined with the rain a while back, socks, etc.). I´m planning on bringing the iHome back, but E´Cuberos asked if I could leave him the iPod full of the tabernacle choir. I´m thinking about leaving it with him with the commitment that he give it to another missionary when he goes (so that it can stay among the missionaries). What do you think about that? And is there anything specific that you know you sent me with that you want me to keep and bring home? And when you come out, it would be nice if you brought an extra empty suitcase to be able to use.

So about the day you come here. I had interviews with the mission President this past week (which was especially trunky as he talked about dating techniques to be able to find my future wife and that I need to do something at least twice a week to find her) and he asked me if I were planning to pick you up. I had thought that the mission offices were going, but maybe I´ll come to the airport. That is yet to be determined. Depends if we have to look for many investigators or not too. But I think that I´ll be coming to help you find the church and get around. I´m not sure if it would be better to rent a car at the airport that day or not because we could take a Remis to church and they´d know their way and we´d get there in 30 min. If we rent a car, I´m not sure exactly how to get to our ward (but I have a map that I could possibly figure out). By doing that, we will be able to visit some converts in Moreno that are only home on Sunday using the rental car. That day, I´m not sure if I´ll go to the hotel with you to sleep or if I´ll stay with my companion. I think it is our decision.

Also, for the other days, I was basically planning on using most of the time to visit all of the converts. I think that would take up all of our time and we might not even have enough time to do that. My last week I´ll go to see the capital and I´m not sure how much touring we will have time to do, but we can try if there is something in particular that you want to see. Tell me about your ideas. But I want to use most of the time trying to strengthen the converts. And one night the mission president suggested that we need to go out into the country to see the stars at night. I hadn´t thought about it but I need to see the southern sky. And if there is anything else that you want, let me know. I´ll try to be the best and fastest translator that I can be, but I can´t promise to provide the best services.

This week we are faced with a difficult decision. María Elena, the sister of a member who came from Paraguay, has been wanting to be baptized for years, but her husband is completely against the idea and always threatens her with a divorce if she gets baptized. Throughout the years, she has suffered many things due to him (causing her to attempt suicide twice in the past). Her greatest desire is to be able to be baptized so that she can be sealed to her parents (who were faithful members that were sealed) and her sister. On sunday, she called her husband saying that she was willing to face the possible consecuences to be able to be baptized. I´ve never seen anyone have so much faith, courage, and desire. So, we will have to make the decision with the Bishop and the Mission President if we allow her to be baptized or not. But I sincerely feel, through prayer, that this decision will unify her family more, even if not at first.

I love this work, I love the Lord, I love the people, I love life, I love you all, and I know it to all be true.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Empujando La Piedra

12 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

¿Puedo hablar en español con ustedes? No, I´m not that inept at speaking English now, but this week we did find a lady from California who wanted us to speak in English with her and it was really difficult for me. It was just as difficult for her because she´s been here for 20 years. It was weird talking with her in that I´ve come to love many parts of the Argentine culture that when so much of the Californian gestures and culture came from her, it made me a little uncomfortable.

I´m glad that you got through this past week well. This past week had a few highlights in our week too. 9 de Julio (July 9th) was the independence day of Argentina and there was a fairly good activity that the ward hosted. There were some games, an explanation of the independence, and a demonstration of a folkloric dance by the youth. Then there were empanadas and choripan (a sausage sandwich that is really good, but full of fats and grease). But the highlight was when a professional folklore singer came (I think he was from one of the neighboring wards). He made me want to learn to sing like that. And an interesting thing was that I was able to understand the words to the Mexican song "Cealita Linda" (I don´t remember it well right now, so I don´t know the name exactly).

The other highlight was a step of courage that we made. After the visit of Elder Aidukaitis, President Benton started doing contacts in the buses when with the zone leaders. I decided that I wanted to try one with Elder Berglund. The first few times that we decided to do it, when we got on the bus and saw so many people, we chickened out. But, on Tuesday, after zone conference, we got on and I started saying loudly to everyone, "Brothers and Sisters, if we could have your attention please. We want to sing a hymn from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While we sing, imagine your own children singing this song to you." And then we sang the first verse of "I´m a Child of God." And then we talked with every person individually. It took a lot of guts, but we were able to do it. It helped me feel that I had fulfilled part of my patriarchal blessing where it says, "I bless you that you will overcome your fears and inhibitions to declare loudly that the gospel has been restored, that there are living modern prophets, and that the priesthood is on the earth once more."

Thank you Dad for getting ahold of those "collection items" for Hmo. Guzman. I´m sure that he´ll be quite happy, even if it isn´t in pristine condition. But, this week he also asked another thing. He wants a biography of Davy Crockett in Spanish. He loves to learn about whatever.

And I hope you recover well Mom. I await your coming, but I don´t want you to do anything that would perjudicate (is that the English translation of perjudicar? Maybe jeopardize is the right translation) your health. So just keep getting better and I´ll pray for you.

This sunday was ward conference (the first since they were a branch). I loved it and one of the stories that the Bishop told really helped me. "There was a man that was praying and his room filled with light and Jesus Christ appeared to him, saying `I have a great work for you to do. There is a rock outside that you need to push with all your heart, might, and strength.´ So, the next day the man went out and started pushing this rock as hard as he could all day long. He finished the day tired and weak and retired the next day. He went out and pushed with all his might the next day. And thus he did for a full year. Then he started thinking, `I´m not getting anywhere with this.´ That night Satan took advantage and came and said, `You´re a failure. You haven´t even so much as pushed that rock one millimeter. It isn´t worth the effort. You should just give up.´ Even more discouraged the man decided that he would go to Christ, explain how he had failed and that he wouldn´t do it any more. The next day Christ appeared and consoled him, `My brother, I never once asked you to move the rock. Look at your strong back, your toned muscles, your tanned skin. You have been faithful to me in pushing the rock and done as I´ve asked. I will now move the rock.´" I´ve kind of felt that we have´nt gotten anywhere with the investigators for the past month. That help me realize that even though the rock isn´t moving, I should keep pushing. And I know it is worth it.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dios tiene un sentido de humor

5 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

Mom, don´t worry if you think that your letter was a bit silly because this past week, we felt that God taught us again that He too has a sense of humor. It happened yesterday on the 4th of July. We were so happy that we had a surprise investigator at church. We had gone in search of all of the people that said they´d come with us and none of them answered or were there. We got back slightly discouraged. But, as we were in Gospel Principles, the second counselor called us out and an investigator had arrived. We had had hope in him a while back, but we could never find him and he always said he´d come to church, but never did. So, we had basically given up on him and hadn´t taught him in a while. So we were happy to see him. The funny thing about him arriving on the 4th of July is that his name is Americo.

Saturday was a difficult day for Argentina because it was the day they got eliminated from the World Cup. They had so much hope that they might win, but they were beat by Germany 4-0. That morning we had received permission to go see the game if we did so in the house of an investigator and we ate lunch with them. We wanted to see it, but we decided to stay in the pench to get several things done and to go to lunch with the member we had planned. In a way, I´m glad that I didn´t see them lose that way. We were afraid we were going to have some problems during the day because everyone was mad at Germany and we look and talk like Germans, but we didn´t have too many. Only a few people yelling at us from across the street. We were careful anyways.

Another reason why it was important that we decided to go to lunch with Hermana Zelarayan was for a little small miracle that we had at the end. The mission had a program a while back to be able to receive referrals where we write down 100 names that the person knows and then they pray and select one or two to take action to visit with us and invite. Well, Elder Aidukaitis (he´s still in all of our minds) showed us a better way. We make a list of all of the names of the people we can (not worrying about where they live for the moment) and then all of those become referrals. 100 referrals in 30 min. We leave the sheet in our area book and future missionaries can over time ask for the addresses and go visit them or send them to other areas.

So, we decided to make the big list with Hma. Zelarayan and her son Adrian Aguilera. We started talking about their family members and they talked about some that lived far away in Mar de Plata. We took down their names anyways. And as we continued with the list, the door bell rang. The very family of whom we were talking about walked in! Adrian hadn´t seen her cousin in 14 years! They had no clue that Hma. Zelarayan and Adrian were members (they were baptized within the past 3 years). So, we taught about the restoration and her sister-in-law really liked it. It truely was a miracle and we hope that we can get the address soon so that the missionaries can go by out there. And we decided to that we´ll finish the list with them another day.

Oh, and a member here, Hmo. Guzman wants us to ask you something. He collects coins and money from different places. And he wants two things. First of all, a new 5 dollar bill. Any old (well new) crisp five dollar bill. And the other thing he wants is a silver dollar. I´m not sure if they make those. I know they have the silver half-dollar, but he already has that. He want a silver (not gold) coin with the value of one dollar. He says that there is probably a silver commemoration dollar. If there is one from 1976, he´d absolutely love that. So, I don´t know if you can find it for him or not (maybe on ebay or something). He said he is willing to pay the amount it costs for it. So, that is his request.

We have been spending a lot more time recently with Hmo. Guzman, which is a good thing and a bad thing. He is the 2nd counselor in the Elders Quorum he is really excited about that. He is a convert from 3 years back and he works in the government and used to be in the Air Force officer. So he loves organizations and things like that. He loves reporting about the visits that he does and he was received the assignment of working with the missionary work of the quorum. We are trying to take advantage of this exhuberance the best we can to contact all of his friends and to do visits with him. And we were able to find a good family to teach through one such visit yesterday. But, one of my problems is that he talks a lot about things that really interest me. He knows a lot about missiles, space, Air Force, history, and a little bit about everything. I really haven´t known anyone like that her in Argentina. Everytime we try to leave the house he says, "I have something I want to show you." I admit that I´ve probably wasted too much of my time with him. I´d really enjoy my time with him after my mission when I can use it a little more leisurely.

I know that this work is true and I am going to push myself to the limits these last few weeks. I know that we can see miracles as we move forward into the unknown with faith.

With Love,
Elder Drake Ranquist