Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Before the call... and pictures!

Dear family,

I don´t have too much time now because of the photos, but I´ll answer what I can.

The church building is quite large. It is two stories because it was built to be a stake center, but never became one. It doesn´t have carpet, carpet doesn´t really exist here in Argentina. It doesn´t have quite the homely feel I´m used to, but it is nice nonetheless. I know, I´m terrible at describing things.

Right now we have several investigators who need to get married. 4 to be exact. Andrea Pereira is the sister of a recent convert and went on a temple visit with the family and came to church this Sunday. Getting investigators to church is one of the hardest parts of the mission. There is always an excuse. She is 25 or so and has a son. We haven´t met the father yet, ut they are working through a marriage.

We also are working with José Díaz. His conyugé is a member, but went inactive when she moved to Argentina from Paraguay and started living with him. But, they are in the process of getting married as well. They have some problems paying the $45 pesos in order to do so, but we found a way they can do it for free. We´re hoping they will go and set date soon. They both came to a ward dinner that happened friday.

To answer Jessica´s question about the schedule and what I do on a daily basis. I´ll try to give a quick overview.
6:30 Wake up and Excercise (run and stretches) and prepare for day
8:00 Personal Study (not enough time at all)
9:00 Companion Study (prepare for lessons, practice, etc.)
10:00 Language Study
10:30 We leave to work. We take a bus to our area and visit various investigators and members (especially recent converts and inactives)
1:00 We eat with a member. Although, more than half of the time, we receive a vianda, or a tupper full of food. We go to the Capilla (church) or the pensión to eat. It is very nice to have this every day.
2:00 Back to work. We walk a ton. Talk with people who are sitting or working outside their houses (everyone has a fence along the road)
9:00 We have to be back in the pensión and plan for the next day
9:30 Prepare and relax
10:30 Sleep

Oh, can´t forget this.
I will call about 2:30 Local time. So in the morning for you. It will probably be the best if I buy a phone card here. I can get International Direct for 10 pesos that lasts an hour. So, I think I´ll do that. Sorry for your trouble. I look forward to it.

I can answer your other questions then.

I love you all,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ranquist Christmas letter!

Feliz Navidad 2008

In honor of our missionary son, Elder Drake Ranquist, in Buenos Aires, Argentina (West), I’ve used a Spanish title to this letter (in fact I had to confirm with my wife that the Spanish was correct). Stephanie translates the Spanish in his letters for me since I am the only one in the family who is so culturally ignorant. Drake is still struggling to learn Castellano, the Spanish dialect there. He left on July 30, 2008, spent 2 months in a Missionary Language Training Center and now has been in the country 2-3 months. It has been a struggle for him to learn a new culture, language, how to hand wash clothes, and to live with a companion 24/7, but he relies on the Lord and seeks His Spirit to grow and improve. If you wish to follow his experience, our daughter Jessica updates a blog weekly at as well as some of the few pictures he has sent (none from Argentina yet!) He will return in Aug 2010.

Sending a son on a mission has been a bittersweet experience, while you are excited and know this is where our Lord would have him go, it is hard to say goodbye. As it was Drake’s last year with us for a while, we decided to make the most of it by going on a two week cruise in the Western Mediterranean including Italy, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal, France and England. In addition, we were all able to go as a family to Utah to celebrate my mother’s birthday before he entered the Missionary Training Center. As we prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s birth as a family, our prayers are with and for our son. Knowing that he is teaching the Gospel to the people of the world brings us great comfort and joy, especially when we hear that his 2nd convert is to be baptized on Dec. 12, 2008. What a wonderful way to experience this season!

I am still flying the old DC-8 for UPS. As new aircraft arrive, my airplane is being used less and less, thus my time home this fall has been in great abundance. Since the contract to fly all of DHL domestic cargo has fallen through, there is talk of parking this old aircraft. If that happens, I will go back to the Boeing 757\767, but I love my old airplane and will stay with it as long as possible. I have also joined the Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP) for my pilot union in which I counsel pilots who have been through a traumatic flying experience to help relieve their stress. I have only been called upon a few times thus far, but have found it rewarding.

Stephanie has had a busy year as Relief Society President for the women in our church congregation. Not only have there been the usual welfare needs, there have been 3 funerals, 2 fires, one with an 8 member family whose house burned down, and lots of visits to homes and hospitals. It has been a wonderful growing experience. The support and love that she has received from the Lord, family and others has been a great blessing. She enjoys her book club and has been a member of her Bunco group for 15 years now.

Jessica (17) is a senior in High School and is having the time of her life. Between having a boyfriend, being a Pre-Professional ballet student at Louisville Ballet, dancing with the professionals in the Nutcracker, going on a “girl’s night out” bowling in old prom dresses, sleepovers, etc, we don’t see how she has any time left to keep her 4.0 in school. But, somehow she seems to be able to accomplish it all and even has a few (though rare) nights home with family. College applications are out but she will not commit (to us anyway) where she will attend this fall. Mom & Dad are still pulling for BYU, but ultimately it is up to her. We’ll all have to wait and see what happens.

Jonathan (15) is a freshman in the Honors program at his High School. He loves his teachers and is finding the coursework to be challenging and time consuming. We are amazed at how hard he is studying while still keeping his sweet personality, especially since he now also goes to a 6am Church Seminary with his sister every morning. All he has left for his Eagle Scout is the project, so we are always open to any ideas. Intramural basketball will start soon so he will have something to do besides studying, working for our community Lodge, and taking piano lessons.

We are all healthy and happy and hope the same for each of you. We recognize the Lord’s hand in our lives and the many blessings that he has given. Stephanie’s parents live just a few blocks away and bring us much love and opportunity to serve. We pray this Christmas season will find each of you closer to Him that gave all He had that we might each return to our Father in Heaven as families to be together forever.

All our Love,

Alex, Stephanie, Drake, Jessica, Jonathan Ranquist

Merry Christmas!

16 Dic 2008

Mi Querida Familia,

Primeramente, perdónenme por no enviar fotos hoy. Tuvimos una reunión y llegamos acá tarde y sin tiempo para buscar mi camera. Entonces, voy a escribir lo que puedo.

Sorry I´m not sending pictures with this email. We had a mission-wide activity and returned late. So, we came to write email first, before we go to the apartment. So, I don´t have them with me. Actually, I have a CD full of pictures with me, which we received at the meeting, but the CD drive won´t open either. Sorry. I´ll try next week. And thank you for the pictures that you sent me. And by the way, my hair isn´t like what it was in the picture I sent last week. I´ve had it cut and I use gel to keep it down for the most part. I think it is an improvement.

The main reason that we didn´t go to la pensión first is because we moved this week. Our contract expired and the owners of the house wanted to double the rent. So, the pensioneros (don´t know the Word in english) sought a different place for us to live, which is farther away. It is the same price as the doubled rent, but a lot, lot nicer. We have a shower that keeps a consistent temperature from day to day, and is much better kept. There are a few problems with it. It really wasn´t designed for four missionaries to live in it. All four of us sleep together in the large living space and we have seperate rooms for our studies (we got stuck with the smaller room). The kitchen is a lot smaller, but it is a nice place to live. The major problem my companion and I have is that it is about another 10 min. from out area. So we lose an hour and a half almost in travel time every day. That is a ton. Especially tonight for P-day when we only have 3 hours of work time. Pero, es lo que hay. (In the words of Dad´s mission, Well, you´ll have that).

Thank you once again for the new shoes. I´m going to wait until Christmas to start using them so that they can be a real gift. My other shoes are destroyed yet, I´m going to continue using them for a while yet, but they are showing the wear and tear that they´re put through. I got the same as my companion (a ton of missionaries he says has these same shoes) and he says they are really comfortable. So, I can´t wait to start using them.

I can really see that my language is improving. One thing I notice is that sometimes it is hard to write in English. I don´t speak in English at all, except in interviews with the mission president. And I try to think in Castellano as much as possible. Today at the activity, I had the opportunity to talk with Elder Nieres a bit, to tell him about how the people he came to love in the area of Villa Amelia are doing, and he said that I speak a lot better now. I was also talking with some other missionaries on the way back and they asked how long I had been on the mission and they were surprised that I only had 2.5 months here. I can also understand better. But I still have a long ways to go yet. One of my major problems, which I´ve had throughout my life, is my mind has a hard time deciding what to say and how to say it. Even without the language barrier. So, I don´t do much of the talking in lessons or other occassions.

My companion, Elder Spendlove, and I are very different in many ways. Which at times is a blessing, at times an obstacle. We have very little in common to talk about. He was an international economy major and is very interested in politics. He really likes namebrand clothes. He has a twin who is serving in Ascensia, Paraguay (I believe, it might be in Uruguay) and 5 other brothers. He only has one sister of his family of 10. He is nearly the youngest of his family. He has some health problems because he was in a faultless carwreck that damaged his hip and back. But, if he ever is in pain, we won´t let me know. He´s as stubborn as Grandpa Ranquist with his difficulties. So, he´s often tired because he can´t sleep well with his back. But, he works hard nonetheless. He really is a good missionary.

Oh, I can´t forget this. It is very possible that I will call at 7 PM local time, so 4 EST because Elder Spendlove is making his call at about 6. But, I will talk with him to see if I can call earlier to get it within your time frame. I look forward to the 40 min. I have to talk with you.

It looks like my time is up again. Jessica, don´t worry if you lose valedictorian. Just do your best. I´m surprised I made it. But also remember, that at the end of every semester, the grades magically appear higher than they were during the semester. And good luck Jonathan with all of your finals. And enjoy winter break. (By the way, have you tried flying again? Is being a pilot still your dream? Or are you thinking about something else. You have time yet to do whatever you wish). Sorry I don´t have time to answer questions about the la capilla (church building) or the people. I love you all and wish you a Merry Christmas. That you´ll have the pure love of Christ, the charity that only comes through diligent prayer and the grace of Christ, in your lives in this time and always.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Monday, December 15, 2008

Look at Drake!!!

9 Dec 2008

Dear Family,

It sounds like everyone is doing well now. I´m doing fairly well too. I have been improving a bit in my work as a missionary and I always feel better with good work. Right now, I´m actually in Moron, a city near Villa Amelia. My companion and I decided to come out here for our P-day because he especially wants to go shopping for some new clothes and ítems. We have hardly anything in Villa Amelia, so it is nice to have such a good bus system to get us out here.

I spent the first part of the morning (after studies of course) replying to letters from Sarah Lemmon and Elder Bryan Rees. Elder Rees was my home teacher at BYU and is at the MTC now preparing to go to Poland. It was great to hear from him. One of his major questions was whether the field is like the MTC or not and I basically told him not at all. The MTC is a school like environment in which we are used to and thrive, whereas the mission field is much more like real life. He had been reading the blogs that you have been keeping for me befote he left for the MTC and received strength from them, so thank you for helping him. I also received the package yesterday. We found a small fake christmas tree in our apartment, so I put it together and put the package under the tree to wait for Christmas. My companion is surprised that I´m going to wait until Christmas to open it.

A bit about Christmas. I have the opportunity to call home on the 25th. At what time is a good time for you? I can´t promise anything. We have transfers the 22nd, and my companion isn´t sure whether he will stay or not, so it might be difficult to plan now. But give me the times you are available and I´ll give more information in the coming weeks. I believe we are three hours apart.

There is one thing I´ve decided I kind of want for Christmas as well. I´d like another pair of shoes to work in. I´m in Moron today where I can get another pair, so I might use the credit card to take out some money in order to buy a pair. As a missionary, it is nice to have a pair of shoes to keep nice for zone conferences, interviews, and the temple. So, I´ve only really been working in one pair of shoes. But they are wearing through fairly quickly. We do a ton of walking on rough surfaces, dirt roads littered with rocks, gravel, bricks, and other items. I can already see a shiny metal piece in the center of the sole of these shoes. Also, the day that it poured, these shoes got soaked and I had to work in my other pair of shoes a few days. They too got a little moist. So, a third pair would be really nice. Sorry I didn´t ask permision last week. I didn´t know we were going to come to Moron today. And as a side note, I iron my shirts now! Water, with its high heat index, works miracles! I learned to spray my shirts with water before I ironed them. They still aren´t perfect, but are a ton better. And yes, my pants are starting to get a little tight. Soy flaco todavía, pero estoy ganando peso.

We decided to have the baptism last Saturday. So, Benjamin Vera is now a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hmo. Vera, his father, asked us as we were leaving from a lesson with Benjamin Wednesday why we were treating him so much like an investigator. He was born under the convenant and is part of an active family. He had a point, so we decided to push the baptism up a week. It went really well. He had to be baptized twice because his feet flew up the first time, but there is nothing wrong with that. My companion said that baptism was one of the most tranquil and smooth baptisms he had seen. Things worked out well. We also had a non-member family member come, which was great. They asked me to give my testimony about my baptism, so I prepared something for that. Then when Hno. Carabajal, the ward mission leader, arrived, he told me I had the talk on baptism. So, I stumbled through a 5 min. talk about the covenants and my testimony of baptism. I had to change it to teach more about the baptism than I had prepared. I don´t remember too much about my baptism (I should have written it down as I had been counseled to do). What I do remember was that the water was warm and I told Dad I wanted to be baptized again someday. I didn´t know about baptisms for the dead at the time. I remember more my confirmation. I remember a force entering into me and a warm sensation in my chest. I had a testimony of the Holy Ghost in that moment at 8 yrs. old.

I haven´t been asking to put something on my facebook in a while. We heard an anouncement from the first presidency at church yesterday about I looked at it a little bit before my mission and a little at the MTC and it is a great site. So, Jessica, could you put a link to that on my facebook in the about me section and also in the status.

I want to wish you the best with introducing Aaron to the gospel. It is a great opportunity for you especially if he decides for himself to truely seek. The church needs as many strong and dedicated priesthood leaders as possible. Dedication only comes through a testimony and testimony only comes through truly seeking for it. I learned that for myself in gaining my testimony. You can´t compel him to seek diligently, but I know that if he decides to he will find and know. As he seeks through reading and praying, he will find and bring to you all greater joy and happiness. It is a great opportunity.

I´m sorry I haven´t sent pictures home yet. I have the ability, but it is very difficult and slow. I only have an hour with the computer, so if I send photos home, it means that I won´t really have time to write a letter to you all. But a picture can describe things a lot better than my limited ability with words, so I´ll try to send some next time. I should probably purchase a SD to USB converter today in order to do it to connect it to the computer. It isn´t advised to have the camera out and visible (I haven´t had any problems, but we still have to be careful. I don´t wear my metal watch from home, but a watch that I bought here in Argentina for 5 pesos. It is a really fake watch, but doesn´t look too bad and it functions. It died once because I accidentally did laundrey with it on, but after 2 days of drying, it was resurrected). So, I think I might try to do that next week. I don´t take a ton of pictures. And I only really have my camera for special occassions and in the pensión (apartment) so I don´t have pictures to show what a lot of where I am and what I´m doing.

You too have permission to send pictures. I can receive pictures by email. And as a special request, could you send a picture of the family by mail at least every 6 months. Jessica and Jonathan are still growing up and I´d like to see them as they grow up and change. And I don´t want to be entirely blown away at Jessica´s beauty, or Jonathan´s height and fortitude when I get back.

It is really weird being a little bit tan. I´m still really, really pale compared to everyone around me, even compared to other Norteamericano missionaries, but my skin is darkening a bit. I look at the back of my hand and htis is what I think, “My hand looks dirty.” I don´t mean that I think that with other people, I´m just not accustomed to my hand being darker. I wonder what I´ll be like after a full summer out in the sun.

Well, I give you my love my family. I am so grateful for all of the prayers (and for the package). My testimony of this gospel is growing although it was strong when I left. I know that through the simple acts of daily prayer and scripture study and weekly church attendence we can receive the strength of the Holy Ghost to fulfill any commandment that the Lord has given us. I am gaining a stronger testimony of those basic principles, the primary principles. I also know that Jesus is the living Christ, the head of His Church, and Savior of the World for all those who repent and come unto him. I love Him. That, more than anything else, is important to remember.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Friday, December 12, 2008


Sorry I didn't post Drake's, or I should say Elder Ranquist's, letter last week. Nutcracker has now started and is keeping me extra busy. I'll try to do better though!

2 Dec 2008

Dear Family,

I think I´ll start by responding to Mom and Dad´s letters, then I have something to ask, and then some great news. I´m glad you are feeling better Dad and I´m glad you all enjoyed thanksgiving. I completely forgot about Thanksgiving during our lunch that day and didn´t really think about it too much throughout the day. To be honest, Thanksgiving was never a big holiday for me. I don´t know. But, I´m glad that you could enjoy it with the Lemmons. I recently received a letter from Sarah redeclaring that her family is moving. I´m glad that Bro. Lemmon could find a better job, but I´ll miss him as the music director.

We don´t hear much about US politics here other than that Obama will be the next president. So no, there have been no problems on the stance of the Church. We teach often that a man and a woman need to be married in order to conform with the teachings of Christ. We don´t have any problems with our stance on gay marriage. It hasn´t come up. And there is a baptismal question about if they have assisted in abortions, which we often have to answer questions why that question is there, but we haven´t had many problems with those “hot” issues of the US.

No, we don´t get to see the First Presidency fireside. Maybe if we find an investigator to take to the stake center, but I don´t think so. And about where we live, we are actually moving apartments Friday, but close to where we are now. So, we´ll still have to take the bus to our area. We have to plan about 30 min. of travel to and from our area every day. We pay a lot in bus fares. It is about a 30 min. walk to the beginning of our area, but our area is quite large so we take buses most of the time to get there and walk around the rest of the day.

This week it has rained quite a bit. My first experience of working in the rain. The past two months, it always rained during the night or during our studies and then let up as we went out to work. Friday we got caught in a downpour and were drenched. We eventually found a member´s house in which we took shelter for a little while. We didn´t have our umbrellas with us because the morning seemed nice. We don´t have news sources to warn us of the day´s weather. To be honest, I found it kind of fun. It annoyed my companion, but I liked it.

It continued to rain Sunday, but the primary program still went well. There were more members in attendance than the last time it rained because of the program. It was nice to hear and play the children songs I recognized. I liked it. And yes I play some of the music I brought on occasion, whether it be for preludes for zone conference or just to play while waiting for district meetings to begin. But, I don´t play too much. It is very possible that Jessica and Jonathan will improve to be a lot better than me after two years. (I plan on it!)

Sunday night we went to a less active family and talked about family goals. (lol, I read "goats" there) The mother left the family, so they have some problems because of that, but they want to come back to the church and be active. The two sons are preparing for missions now and we talked about what they need to do. It made me think about some of my goals and my plans. First of all, I´m not quite the missionary I want to be. I still have a ton of difficulties just opening my mouth to speak much less having good sensible sentences come out. But, I want to make December the best and hardest working month of my mission yet. Also, I realized how much many missionaries sacrifice in order to be on a mission. It made me wonder what more I can do to serve the Lord.

So, Dad, I think it would be appropriate if I paid what I can for my mission. There is still money in my bank account that could be used to pay for another portion of my mission. I know I can´t pay for all of it, but I´d like to pay for what I can. I was going to save that for when I returned so that I didn´t have to rely on you. But relying on you now to pay for the mission is the same thing. So, I might need a bit of help after my mission to get my life started, but I think that would be better than letting the funds I have now sit. I wasn´t able to describe that well, but I think you´ll understand my logic. And I know the Lord will bless me with what I need for the sacrifices I make now.

On the same theme, did UofL ever send the rest of the money I earned during the summer? I understood that I would $250 each week and I worked for 5 weeks. If you have questions about that, you can email Dr. Williger. You can either find his email address in my gmail account or on the UofL website.

Now for the great news. I have another baptism planned this transfer! We made a list of all of the members in certain areas and we are trying to pass by as many as possible to get to know them and to help the inactives and teach nonmembers of the incomplete families. One member of a family that makes up half of the active ward complained that we always pass by one member of the family and never them (one reason is because the mother is the Relief Society President and the father works with the young men and also because we are invited to eat there every Sunday), so we decided to pass by. We started talking and found out that their 9-yr. old son, Benjamin, wasn´t baptized.

So, it is kind of a freebee (I don´t know how to write that), but we have a baptism planned for two weeks from now (12 Dec). Once a child is 9, they fall under the jurisdiction of the mission. He wasn´t baptized at 8 because he has a surgery on his ears and the doctor said he couldn´t enter water and would have to wait a year. He has to receive the lessons and prepare for the interview, so we are working on how to present the information simply so that he can remember. He has some learning difficulties, so we will work with pictures, videos, and activities as much as we can. We will go to their house about every other day to make the preparations.

And just a tidbit about me. I am now using gel in my hair to keep a part and also I´m trying to stop crack my knuckles, especially my neck because it really bugs my companion. (that'll be the day) I learned a lot more about him this week and maybe I´ll have time to describe him a bit more next week.

Sepan que les amo a ustedes, mis padres y hermanos. Quiero que sean felices. Sé que este Evangelio es verdadero y que puede darnos la habilidad de enfrentarnos contra cualquier problema de vida. Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y nuestra roca. Cuidense.

Con Amor,

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving and the Temple!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! We had my grandparents and some family friends over. It was great...ate plenty of food...watched a movie...the typical Thanksgiving activities minus the football. All in all it's been a very nice Thanksgiving break!
Now on to Drake...
25 Nov 2008

Hola mi familia,

I give my well wishes once again from Villa Amelia (actually, in Rivadavia because we live outside our area), Merlo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. I hope you can start feeling better Dad and I´m glad that you feel better Mom. And I hope that both you Jessica and Jonathan feel well tambien (yes, algunas palabras come out of my mouth easier in Castellano que en Ingles). I am doing well. I have the small runny nose on occassion, but I haven´t gotten sick here yet. I feel bad for Elder Born though. Since he has gotten here, it seems like he has gotten sickness after sickness. He and his companion have been locked in the apartment several times. And my companion, Elder Spendlove, has to carry around paper towels and tissues because he has had bloody nose after bloody nose the past few days.

You say you are all starting to get into the holiday spirit of Christmas. People are starting to mention it here and I think the spirit of Christmas will enter with the opening of December, but I´ll admit, I´ll have a hard time recognizing Christmas. My mind has a hard time disassociating Christmas with winter. I get to experience my first Christmas in summer next month and it will be really weird. Christmas and sweat, they just don´t seem to go together. (Yes, it is starting to get hot here, but one thing I am so greatful for is there seems to be a constant breeze). But I hope all of your preparations will go well.

Dad, I really haven´t heard the word greenie here, but I think I´m still a nuevito. I´m not really a compañero menor yet, but he isn´t exactly mi entrenador either. I´m somewhere in between. I know that I need to be patient with myself, but I want to fulfill my responsibilities as a missionary now and not wait. I know I have potential, but sometimes I feel I´m not doing the best or most I can do in order to fulfill that potential or to prepare my self to eventually fulfill that potential. I know that diligent work over time will bring me to that point.

Mom, I´m glad that Wednesday Letters prepared you for Time Out for Women, because I believe I gave that to you for Christmas last year. And that you enjoyed the conference. And of course I enjoy the letters I receive. Letters are important to every missionary. I didn´t read all of the proofs of the Book of Mormon that you sent me yet, but I believe that I´ve heard almost all of them. When Elder Nelsen came to el CCM (Centro de Capacitación de Misioneros or MTC), he shared those with us.

Today has been a good day so far. We went to the Temple! I´ll admit that I really miss going to the temple every week and I think that I´ll make that a goal for when I have a temple close by. We had to get up early in order to make it to the first session. Only three companionships in our zone made in time for that session (including us, my companion likes to be early to everything and I am in accordance with him). It felt good, it felt like I was home in a way. A time to relax a little from the rushed concerns of a missionary. The session was in Castellano, but I was able to understand nearly all of it (it also helps that I´m familiar with the words anyways), but I still had to concentrate enough that I wasn´t able to ponder on it too much.

After the session, we had to wait for the other missionaries to get out of a later session, so the temple workers asked us to help with sealings. I really like those as well. They really are the capstone, or better stated, the crown of the ordinances of the Gospel. I sat as witness and acted as son for a few. While there, I could see myself being a temple worker one day. I think it would be nice. Afterward we went to the Distribution Center (pretty small) and I bought a Children´s Hymnbook because I will be playing for the Children´s production in Sacrament Meeting. They also had a lot of books that I´ll eventually want to put in a Gospel library, but that we aren´t allowed to purchase and study (all in Castellano too).

One of the things that I´m realizing is a major part of the work of a missionary is work with less actives. I didn´t realize before how much work that missionaries do to try to reactivate and strengthen the members. My companion (and I a bit) gets a little frustrated because a lot of the recent converts were bautismos y no conversos reales (real converts). Nearly all of the baptisms in the past two years in the ward are inactive. President Benton explained to me in an interview last week (the interviews are always good) that the people don´t make strong commitments at all. Many people say, Si Dios Quiere (Godwilling) to various commitments. And we work hard to try to get people, investigator or not, to follow through and get married especially when they´ve been together and loyal for 15 years or more. My companion says, “The decision was made 15 years ago. All you need now to comply with God are the papers.” We are going to have activities every Thursday in order to try to help the ward bonds strengthen and to help investigators come to church.

Well, I leave you once again (I can´t remember the words of With Heart and Voice). Yo sé que Jesucristo solamente formó una Iglesia con profetas y profetas y su autoridad como el fundamento. Sé que esa Iglesia se cayó y fue restaurado por medio de José Smith y que tenemos la misma organización como esa Iglesia.

Les amo mi querida familia,

El Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Growing Missionary

18 Nov 08

Querido familia,

¿Cómo andan ustedes? I´m sorry to hear about the problems and sicknesses you have had over the past week. I´m glad your check rides went fine and that Jonathan could participate in the road show. And I hope that you all start feeling better. That your bodies can have the energy necessary to do the things necessary in life. One quote that I agree with from one of the apostles is that a mission is more like real life than anything. When I ask “¿Cómo anda?” to some of the members, their answer at times is “luchando,” meaning fighting. Life is a fight, a struggle. That is why one of the greatest promises in the scriptures (Alma 40) is that after this life, the righteous will live in a state of rest. But for the time being, we must endure, or persevere to the end. (En Castellano, es “perseverar hasta el fin”). That the sicknesses and fatigue that we receive are obstacles to be overcome so that we can be blessed even more.

This week has been good. My new companion, Elder Spendlove has a lot of leader qualities and I´m grateful that he wants to be obedient and diligent. The reason that I thought he was a native at first is because he does have some Spanish heritage. His great grandmother is from Spain, and I think grandparents from Mexico. He loves to play the “where do you think I´m from?” game with the people because it is a compliment to him when they don´t guess the obvious Utah. He speaks Castellano a ton better than me and is pretty fluid, although I still hear grammatical mistakes often. I hope I learn to speak fluidly soon. I´m still really choppy (I´m choppy in speech in English too) and slow, so it makes it harder for them to understand me, but I can understand them a lot better! So that I can hear the words that I don´t know and note them. Back to my companion. He has 17 months on the mission, so he knows what he is doing and how to teach.

It has been a little difficult for us this week because I really don´t know the area that well. Without the map that I made, we wouldn´t have been able to plan really anything. A lot of the major teaching of people happened while I was on splits, so I didn´t really have a good idea of who was who and their needs. So, we passed by a lot of people to figure out their growth in the church, what they needed, and how we could help them. I think he now knows the area as well, if not better than me now after just a week. I have a terrible memory and am not very good with directions I´ve learned. And the bussing system still confuses me. There aren´t maps showing the bus routes, so you have to figure it out by watching and by asking.

We are working a lot with inactive members because they are also often a great resource to find new investigators. The retention in the ward here isn´t the greatest and we are probably going to start hosting activities on Thursday nights to increase the unity in the ward. They don´t have youth activities but once or twice a month and they don´t really do home teaching and visiting teaching, so there is little to hold the ward together other than large family relationships. So, we hope that activities will help bring them together and help them introduce the Gospel to their friends and family.

Some of the people that we worked with the past couple days actually dwell in other areas. One investigator who had recently moved from Peru, family has been members for 5 years, but he never was baptized, randomly showed up at church on Sunday. He lives in the area of Rivadavia, of Elder Born and Elder Alvarez, and has a lot of potential. Going to church shows real commitment and is that hardest thing for investigators to do. We also had some great contact with the brother of Juan (the boy I baptized) who lives in Moron. It started out just talking about why we are here on a mission, to an explanation about the church. My companion pretty much taught the entire first lesson using the 13 articles of faith. He was really curious and attentive and will probably contact the missionaries when he sees them. I have learned that help from the members really is the best way for people to accept the Gospel.

Relations so far with my companion are doing well. We have a difficult time talking at times. I´m not a talker and we sometimes have difficulty finding common ground. He studied international economics and is really interested in politics (a staunch republican). I don´t really have any interest in politics. But, he is obedient, so I don´t get upset with him on the cause the he is making me be disobedient. I hope that I´ll get over my speech barriers and learn how to just chat with someone and make someone feel comfortable. And of course learn Castellano better. I don´t speak in English with others, so they have to be fairly patient with me if they want to understand the point I try to get across.

I think I might be gaining weight a little, but I don´t know for sure. I don´t think that I really eat too healthily. We don´t get very many vegetables to eat. We eat with members every day (but P-day) and get a lot of pasta and milenesa (chicken sandwich pretty much). It is a rule in the mission to eat three fruits a day, so we do get that. And I take a vitamin every morning too. I also snack on pan negro, wheat bread a good amount. I don´t care too much for taste when I snack on things, I like snacks that can help fill my stomach and give me the lasting energy I need. The meat here really is pretty good, especially the chorizo, or their sausage. The family Pareira (who are preparing for the temple in a few months) have osados (essentially BBQs) for us on occasion. Also, we get a ton of pizza and ice cream on Sundays with the family Valle. They have practically family reunions that are really busy and have a lot of commotion every Sunday where we go eat.

I don´t really have much time left now, so I want to give you my love. I am not yet the missionary I want to become, but I know that with the help of the Lord, I will be. I have to develop some talents yet that I am lacking. So, pray for me that I´ll be able to open my voice and declare loudly the restoration of the gospel. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is the only church that has the fullness of the Gospel, that has a prophet who speaks cara a cara, face to face with Christ, and is the only church that has the authority of God. Everyone needs to learn and understand this. It is vital. And I know the Lord is preparing the way for people to learn it in small and simple means.
I say this with love for all,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Companion!

Dear Family,

Things are going to change here a bit. First of all, yes Dad, it is starting to get hot. I´ve never really spent much time out in the sun before in my life. But that is something that will change for sure. Mom, I do put on sunscreen every morning. I found that when I start getting burned, I get bad rashes the itch and bumps appear. So, I try to put on sufficient sunscreen every week. Two nights ago I had a hard time sleeping because of the heat in our room, which really retains heat, but last night I was fine. We have a fan to use.

Before I get into the major change, I´ll write a bit about this week. Elder Nieres has a ton of skills with mechanics and with construction. So, we spent a lot of time this week giving service to some recent converts. I should actually say he spent a lot of time giving service because I have absolutely no experience when it comes to such things. The major accomplishment was the laying of a tile floor for La Familia Pereira. They are a strong family that are preparing to go to the temple in April.

Elder Nieres was amazing with laying the tiles. The first thing he did was level the floor. I got to see how concrete is mixed and laid. How he used a tube of water to mark the same height on each wall. And how he used nail and string to mark the level he wanted of the floor. It was quite amazing to watch him do it all.

So, what did I do while he was doing all of this? I talked some with the family. But other than that I got to do one of my favorite things—Study! They were given a huge library of LDS books from the Bishop. So, I read in Principles of the Gospel and various other materials. I read from the Book of Mormon (I am still a pretty slow reader of Castellano, but I am getting a lot better). And I read from Jesus the Christ. I love that book. It so logically displays the life of the Lord and the reasons for which he did things. One day of his service, I was able to read 50 pages of Jesus the Christ. That is a lot. I wish I had more time to read it.

I really wish I had read more and studied more during my youth. I studied school stuff and I did read from the scriptures every night in order to complete the Canon of scriptures, but I never really studied or read much otherwise. I wish I didn´t spend so much time playing video games and watching TV and such. But, that is alright. Later in my life, I want to read and study the gospel and other good books more. I love them. One thing I´ve realized with Jesus the Christ, I want to go through the Four Gospels and read them using the chronology given in the Bible Dictionary and then read the explanation of Talmage. Yes, I love the times I get to read.

Ok, now for the major change. I have survived my first transfer! (And no, I´m not speaking of my physical wellbeing mom). So, we had the big transfer meeting yesterday (where we learned that we had broken the mission record with 137 baptisms!), and Elder Nieres has been reassigned. He has been in Villa Amelia for 6 months and really loves the members and didn´t want to leave. He is headed for Marcos Paz, another zone. I will miss him. Although I didn´t agree with him on several things, especially on our use of time and our lack of punctuality, he is a good elder, my trainer. I hope that all goes well for him. He has 4 months left on the mission. I hope they are full of enjoyment and success. He told me, when I asked for his counsel after a transfer together, “Enjoy every moment of your mission.” I hope to be able to and I hope he does too.

So, this means I get a new companion. His name is Elder Spendlove. He just came in this morning, so I don´t know much about him yet, but I´ll write what little I do know. He is from Utah and I originally thought he was latino because of his tan (I´m tanning a bit too, which is a little weird). He seems to be very comfortable with the language, which is a good thing. He has 17 months on the mission. I believe that he will be a great companion. He seems to have a lot of traits of a leader (asking good, specific questions of Elder Nieres before he left about the area). I believe that he will be a great companion.

That means I´m the one who is knowledgeable about the area and the people. I don´t think I know it as well as I should. Elder Nieres would do nearly everything, so I hope that I will have the ability to do my share of the work. I want to be diligent and obedient, but I am a little afraid of the energy that the work I´m hoping to make myself do will tax. But, I know that the Lord will support me if I put forth the effort.

Oh, the reason we have Preparation day on Tuesday is because the temple here isn´t open on Mondays. Every other transfer, we go to the temple. Also, sometimes the zone activity is to go to the temple. So, we need to have our P-day on a day that the temple is open. That was changed recently I believe. And yes, they do take siestas in the afternoon. Or some of them do. It seems like only half of the people sleep. I don´t know exactly. And yes, I have heard that Obama will be the new president. But I don´t know much more than that and I´m not really sure if I care to know much more at this time. I´m an Argentine for now.

I hope that your week goes well all of you. That your calling as Relief Society will bring you joy Mom. That you´ll get through your checkrides just fine and without worry Dad. That dance and friends will continue to be an enjoyment to you Jessica. That school goes well and you can have fun with the roadshow Jonathan. That all of you will be blessed with the Spirit of the Lord in your lives, that you´ll have its fruits, which is “amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, benignidad, bondad, fe, mansedumbre, templanza.” (I try to memorize a scripture or something almost every day and I review them all when I do my excercises in the morning. So, I´m going to have a lot of scriptures memorized in Castellano. I´ll have a hard time quoting them in English when I return).

I know that this is the Lord´s work. That we´ll live as a family together forever in the presence of our Father and enjoy of all of His blessings if we perseverar hasta el fin, endure to the end. I know that the Lord works through simple means to bring about greatness. I know that through His restored gospel, la fe, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, y el recepción del don del Espíritu Santo, we can receive of His Salvation. I love the gifts and blessings He gives us and I hope to have the faith to always seek them. Know that I love you and that He loves you with great power. And that through la oración y la lectura de las Escrituras, we can feel of his gran amor. May God always be with you.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Drake makes a map

Querida Familia,

Estoy agradecido por las cartas de la semana pasada. Siempre me gustan las cartas. Especialmente que Mamá pudo enviar todas las cartas de las últimas tres semanas. Las guardo en una carpeta con los dibujos que recibo de los niños de Villa Amelia y Rivadavia, mi barrio y el en que vivo. Muchas gracias.

Ok Dad, I didn´t really say much more than thank you for all the letters. I save them all with the drawings I receive from all of the kids. And my Castellano is improving...I think. I believe I can understand better a bit every day, and it adds up. I have the occassional conversation with people while Elder Nieres is chatting away with someone else. I can´t wait until it becomes a bit more natural. I am still lost a lot and let my mind wander a lot while my companion zips on with the members. But, I receive compliments from the members that I can speak really well. And in reality, I can usually say about exactly what I want to say without taking an insane amount of time. Especially when we are talking about my ability to talk. “Puedo decir lo que quiero decir.” But, I still have a long road ahead of me before I can speak like I want to. If it is possible to speak like I want to. I´ve realized I have a hard enough time speaking English in my life that I don´t think I learn to speak Castellano better.

Today Elder Nieres and I had a good time. We went to the Air Force base in Merlo. He is a motor mechanic who wants to, after his mission, go and study at that Air Force Base to be an Air Mechanic. There was a room full of engines that he was just enthralled with. He has a really good understanding of the piston engines and helped explain to me how they work. I learned a lot (from what I could understand). It felt good to go to a museum. As a family, we would go to a museum about every 3 months and on trips every year we would visit another 5 or 6, so I´ve had my share of experience with museums. It felt more natural than what I do on a daily basis here on a mission.

I found it really cool that Dad sent me the 17 points of the true church in the letter right as I asked for it. I haven´t yet gone out to buy the cups and make them yet, but I still found it cool that we were thinking on the same page.

I´ve been trying to spend the little free time I have working on a map of Villa Amelia. Elder Nieres made this beautiful large map and I´ve been going through writing all of the street names and numbers. I have grand plans for the map. I want to put the name and address of every member, investigator, and contact we have on it. We probably won´t be able to see the street names very well afterwards, but we´ll have smaller maps to do that with. I have come up with a system to mark the tags to easily see the progress in the Gospel they´ve made with the scripture marking crayons I have. A contact is just white (each tag is a rectangle of loose leaf paper of 1.5x1cm). If we have taught them the first lesson or others, I add a blue line. If they attend church once and we´ve taught them, they are a progressing investigator, and I add an orange line. If they are baptized, meaning recent convert, I add a green line. After a year of membership, I add a purple dot. If they are active, that dot becomes a purple line (so, a purple dot means they are inactive, which includes a high percentage of the members of the area). And if they are a leader in the church, I add a yellow line. So, if they are an active leader (like the bishop or the ward mission leader), their tag is full with a blue, orange, green, purple, and yellow lines. And we put these flags where they live on the map. I am hoping this will greatly improve the efficiency of our future daily planning sessions (especially because I don´t know the people or the area well enough to plan on my own). This way we can pick the investigators and members that we need to stop by that day, pick a route, and we know every contact, investigator, and member who lives in between and around. This way we can spend more of our time planning what we are going to teach and talk about with them, instead of looking for names to stop by.

Since I´ve been out here, I´ve started to see some of the organization patterns of Dad in my habits. My mission president in the interview last thursday asked me to write down a list of all of the things I want to read on my mission. So, one day, I wrote a list of a full page of the things I wanted to read. On the back of the page, I made a plan of what to read in preach my gospel each week during a transfer to accomplish the goals I was thinking about. Then I made a rough sketch of a weekly plan. I´ve also written down the things I need to do every morning between 6:30 and 8 to get ready for the day. And this month I´m keeping a record of all of the things that I buy so that I can get a budget started. I also have a place for pretty much everything, so that the room doesn´t become a mess. Yeah, I think I am in reality a fairly orderly and plan oriented person. I have to be because otherwise I can´t remember anything.

A quick request. Jessica, do you think you could get ahold of the apartment number of Zephne for me? I have the address, she just didn´t know the apartment number before we broke off contact two months ago. I sent a letter two weeks ago without the number, which I hope she´ll receive in the coming week. Before I write again, I´d like to know exactly where to send it.

I´m glad it sounds like all is going well with the things at home. How´s school going for you Jonathan? High school is much tougher than Middle School isn´t it? But there is also a lot more freedom. You feel more like your own person. Gained many good friends? Alot of my high school friends were those that I already knew from middle school, from Meyzeek, but I met a grew close to a lot of other people. Just be nice to everyone and everyone will accept you. You don´t have to fit in with any group. If you are a good person, everyone will be fine with having you around. I wish you good luck. It isn´t easy, but that is one thing about life that you´ll learn more and more, the harder something is, the more rewarding it is afterwards.

I know that this work is true. Everytime I´m given an opportunity to testify about it, I feel so much better. Walking around all day can be a bit of a drag, but after the miracle of entering the gate of a random stranger and testifying that Joseph Smith saw God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, that he truely was called to be a prophet and receive the authority of God, I feel the Spirit stronger. Especially when I see that the words that are coming out of my mouth are edifying them. I love that edification. And I know that when we work to receive it, we´ll find it, through prayer, scripture study, and partaking of the Sacrament. I hope you all always feel edified.


Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Christmas wishes (spagetti sauce!?), being a tool, no hot water, and more!

Dear Family,

Ok, I received a much (is the spanish affecting him that much already?) of email this week and I don´t think you want me spending this precious hour just reading email, so I´m going to print it out and read it later and respond next week. I hope that is alright with you. Throughout the week, I write in my planner the things that I want to write, so I´ll do the same with my response next week.

First off, I´ll answer the questions of the email from Dad last week. Sorry I forgot to write about your questions last week. My shirts are alright. I can´t iron them because everytime I do, they burn (but I have been able to get the burn stains out, luckily). They would look a little better if I could Iron them, but since they are made to keep wrinkles out, they aren´t terrible. I´m still presentable. With music, we´re only allowed to listen to hymns, mormon tabernacle choir, and a specific mission CD. So, I´m glad that I have at least 5 CDs of Mormon Tabernacle Choir on my iPod and that there is a wide variety of sounds in those 5 CDs.

Ok, I really don´t need much for Christmas, but if you have to ask my preference of possible things here is my small list of food I miss from the US. It would be nice to have some tortellini with a nice bottle of Prego sauce.(HELP! Anyone know a good way to send a glass container of sauce that has to be refrigorated when opened?) They have something similar here, but I don´t really like it. They only have pure de tomate (a kind of tomato sauce) that doesn´t have the flavor of Prego. Also, I like grapenuts cereal. Grapenuts sustain me in the morning a lot better than the cereals here (copos de maíz, which is corn flakes). As well, granola bars would be cool to snack on while we walk around. You don´t need to send those items, but just a few things that could be nice. Oh, and as well, a new tie always makes a good Christmas present for a missionary.

A small note about DearElders. I found out that they only come every 2-3 weeks. They receive them all and have a date every 2-3 weeks that they print it out and send them. So, if you submit it right before the deadline, it could be here in 1 week, if right after, it might be 4. I don´t know if anyone has tried to send one yet because I haven´t received any.

I received a package from the Sweat family yesterday! I want to thank them. All the children wrote really (I wrote wrilly at first for some strange reason. I have not idea why) cute cards wishing me a happy mission. The elders in the apartment (la pensión) also enjoyed some of the cookies. We´ll enjoy the snacks over the next few weeks. So, thank you! I´ll write a letter to reply specifically to the cards and the letter later on today.

In the letter from them was a story from Sis. Hinckley about why missions are necessary for the boys of the church. About how much it causes the boys to grow into men. That is one thing that I have learned out here, that these experiences teach me more about how to live life than I have learned the past 19 years of my life. Over the past 19 years, I´ve been molded into a tool, but out here, I am being sharpened for use. I have a ton more respect for all returned missionaries because truly, they are ready to be men.

We had a zone conference this past week. It was kind of fun listening to Sis. Benton give her talk. She really doesn´t know Castellano (Spanish) that well at all. She wrote out her talk and probably had a lot of help translating it and then read it with a really terrible American accent. It was really good and helped us appreciate more our abilities in Castellano even though we still have difficulties communicating. I still have a lot of difficulties understanding the people, but I am a lot better than when I arrived. I pick up a bit more every day. Here in Buenos Aires, there are a lot of immagrants from other regions of South America and they all have slightly different accents. One thing I´ve learned is that the Argentine accent is the hardest to understand because they mumble and slur their words a lot more than everywhere else. They also speak a bit faster. So, very often I can only catch the first word and the last word. The rest I can´t pick up, not only because I don´t have a full vocabulary, but I can´t distiguish where one word ends and the next begins. A full sentence sounds like one word. With time, I´ll be able to distiguish what I need to. There is one family in particular that I have difficulties understanding. Every sunday, we go to familia Valle for lunch. They have a lot of family come and they cook about 15 pizzas and have a ton of ice cream. (By the way, the ice cream here tastes just a bit better than in the states). My companion explained to me why I can´t understand them. They have this supernatural ability to have 3-4 conversations at once that are all interconnected. There will be one person talking who will then respond to another conversation that was going on while they were talking. It is crazy. Not to mention the speed of the conversations. So, if I can master that family, I´m good to go.

Also at the zone conference, I went with one of my zone leaders for just a bit to open a gate. He asked how things were with my companion and actually right now, they´re alright. We are getting along better now than before. One thing he said to me, that really brightened my day, was that Elder Nieres seems to be doing better. That he seems happier now that he´s with me. That made me feel so good that my efforts to love him and be patient have helped bring him more happiness here on the mission.

Sunday, I went on splits with some ward members. So, I was out without Elder Nieres for a time to guide me and to teach. I went with Hermano (Brother) Salvador, the Elders Quorum President to go out and contact less active members and to teach other lessons for a few hours. He´s a convert of 3-4 years, I think. I can´t remember at the moment, who is about 50-60 (I can´t judge age) with really cool sweeping white hair. He has a desire to learn English from me, so I give him little small phrases like “Hello, How are you doing?” every week at church to memorize. When we started one charla corta (a short contact lesson about the restoration) he was really eager to declare that in 1820 Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet by Jesus Christ and God. This brought a lot of questions from the man we were teaching and I had to go back and teach the beginning of the first lesson to help him understand why we need a prophet, about the creation of the church of Jesus Christ during His times, and about the authority that was necessary to restore. But, it was great nonetheless that he was so eager to declare that important message. And I was able to teach and answer gospel questions on my own! Without the need for help from my companion. He told me that he knew I could do it, and actually, I didn´t really doubt it myself, but it was nice to have the experience to prove it to me. Hermano Salvador really helped me with learning the area a bit more, showing me the houses of members and he knew so many others out in the street. Going on splits with him was a great way to gain a few references. Also, he could show so much love for the less active members, especially those of his quorum. Members are such a great asset. The ward misison leader, Hermano Carabajal, is setting up for us to go on splits with ward leaders every week to visit and strengthen the members, menos activos (less actives), y conversos recentes (recent converts). It is a great opportunity in many ways.

I´m starting to run out of time, but quick comments. I had a few cold showers this week. The hot water knob broke, but my companion, who can fix anything (for service, he rewires houses and fixes water pumps because he was a motorcycle mechanic and wants to be an airplane mechanic), rigged a way for us to turn on and off the hot water. Then we ran out of gas Sunday. I´m so grateful that usually I have hot water.

Also Dad, what are the names you put on the cups for the activity to demonstrate the fall of the chuch? I know the bottom thirteen are the twelve apostles, ancient and living, with Jesus Christ. But what are the names that you put on the cups you stack? That is such a great activity to do with a family, especially to help with family home evenings of recent converts. So, could you write the list of what goes on the cups?

Some quick scriptural thoughts. This morning, 1 Ne. 15:27 hit me, which states that Lehi didn´t see the filthiness of the water because he was swallowed up in other things. I didn´t realize how applicable that scripture is to us until this morning when I was reading some of the Book of Mormon for a part of my language study. That when our minds are swallowed up in other things, on good things of the Lord, we don´t recognize the filthiness around us. We are filled with pure water even and don´t even see that we are sorrounded by filthy water.

Well, I have to go now. I want to wish you my love. And bear you my testimony that I know these things are true. As Alma, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know for myself, and now I now for myself that these things are true because the Lord God has manefested them unto me by His Holy Spirit (I don´t have it memorized in english, so that is a small translation of mine).

With love,

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We got pics!

Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Jonathan! Sorry I couldn´t do anything for you yesterday, but I wish you a happy birthday now. You are now 15. Que bueno! In only one year, you´ll start entering the world of adult life. Becoming excited for the ability to drive and to date? It is still a year away, no need to fear just yet. I hope the day went great, that you not only received good presents, but received of the love of your family and friends. I send my love as well. The messages that I sent you in the birthday card of last year still apply. Continue to grow into the wonderful man you will become, for a wonderful boy surely has the potential to grow into a wonderful man. Once again, good luck with school. I have to say, especially Spanish because I of all people know how hard it is to learn another language. Have a great year and enjoy your time. I give you my love my brother.

Ok, now for the rest of my letter. Just in case it wasn´t known before, I can receive letters from anyone outside of Buenos Aires. And I´d love to receive letters from people (especially from a few people I know at BYU right now). To let you know, works here. Every district meeting (Wednesday) we receive the letters that were sent to the office, whether by DearElder, pouch, or other means. I guess since it seems like the delay of mail is three weeks, I might start receiving mail tomorrow…I hope. And I can respond to anyone who mails me, although I have to have another Elder in my district mail it out for me. I don´t have much time to write, so I might have to pick and choose who I write each week. Sorry, forgive me. Oh, and by the way, I think I asked for this once before, but haven´t heard anything yet, Could I have the addresses of some other family members, especially of my Augason cousins? I`m sure they would all like to hear from me. (I´m sure you also have made known the work of Jessica to many people as well).

The mission has so many ups and downs throughout every day it is hard to keep up. I haven´t experienced so many emotions in my life. One minute I´m happy and bright, the next frustrated, and then feeling good about everything, all in the same day, sometimes in the same hour. It´s exhausting. Actually, so much more about the mission is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting, but yet there is always that little bit more to help me continue. I know that the Lord continues to support me and that I´ll have so many experiences here to learn from and to grow and everything. Things still aren´t perfect with my companion, but I´m working on it, trying to love him. One of the things I realized is that I do need this experience to prepare me for my future companion because I know things won´t always go perfectly, so I´m learning now how to try my best to get along with someone whom I didn´t choose and someone I have an extremely difficult time communicating with. So, what I learn from him, I can put into practice in the future.

I know that the Spirit helps to teach people, but also that when people are on the verge of gaining more Spiritual knowledge, Satan works so much harder against them too. We found a lady, Natividad, last week that was very accepting of everything we taught, very excited about it. She told us that she believed all of our words and kept asking when she could go to church. She told us that everytime we came by to teach, she felt so much better about all the difficulties in her life. She came to an open house of the church on Saturday and many of the relief society members showed her around and introduced her to what happens in the church. We´re not sure what happened, but she didn´t come to church on Sunday (it is slightly frustrating when none of your investigators come to church, the most important part of the week) and we passed by that night and she told us that she didn´t want to have anything to do with us anymore, that she is Catholic and doesn´t want to change. We´re going to pass by her sometime soon to offer our love and to see if we can resolve any doubts and fears that she has because we know how blessed the Gospel will be in her life.

Sunday was Mother´s day here in Argentina, so my companion called his family. He still has 5 months, but he said they all talked about preparing for his return. I talked with you all three weeks ago, which was nice. I´m looking forward to the call in two months.

The climate here is a lot like Louisville I´d have to say. It is Spring time and the weather is different every day. Last week it was a little chilly. I carried around the inner lining of my coat with me (at least half of the northamerican missionaries have that exact same coat. Mr. Mac´s earn a killing off of it.). Yesterday, it was probably about 75 or so, a little hot in the sun all day. Yes I try to put on sun protector (because I´ve realized here that when I don´t, I get really itchy rashes). And right now, it is a bit stormy. Today, while getting a hair cut, the barber told me that they get the warm climate of the north and the cold climate of the south, so it is always different. That is exactly what I say about the climate of Louisville. It gets the cold winds of Canada, and the warm winds of the Gulf of Mexico. Oh, also, we had a time change on Sunday, so I think I am now 3 hrs different then you because we had to set the time forward an hour, where you put it back an hour. (How terrible to lose an hour of sleep on Mother´s Day!)

As I´ve said, I know that this work is moving forward with the help of the Lord. We are the weakest of the Earth going forth to serve. I still can´t understand a lot of what is being said, nor can I speak very quickly or very well (but I do see some improvement…I think). But, I take comfort in the words of Moroni in Ether 12…I want to say 27, that we are given weaknesses to be humble, but that our weaknesses will be made strong. I know how deeply I need the Savior´s help in this work and in my life in general. And I know he fulfils all of his promises, thus I know that I will have His help. Also, I know that I and you are being blessed through this work. My favorite section of the Doctrine and Covenants, section 6, has a promise towards the end that we are blessed when we are rejected. But they are blessed when they accept and we reap of the joy and fruits of our labors. I can´t wait to see what experiences I have ahead of me to see of the greatness of our Lord and I will try to put forth all of mi “corazón, alma, mente, y fuerza” to accomplish the purposes of the Lord. I know that the message we present, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, is true. I feel it. I know that Christ suffered for us. I bear testimony of that. I know the promises of the Lord when we heed his counsel will all be fulfilled.

Thank you for all of your prayers on behalf of me. I will need them continually throughout these two years.

I sincerely express my love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Learning to be a Jonathan's birthday!

Tomorrow is Jonathan's 15th birthday! We celebrated it today because it was when we had time. I can't believe that in only a year he'll be able to date! My little brother is growing up! (i'm sure he just loves hearing that)Happy Birthday Jonathan!

So I haven't updated in a while, sorry! A lot has happened recently.

Querido familia,

Wow, so many things have been happening in our ward since I left. I don´t ever remember such events as a school being out do to power outages or a fire destroying so much of a member´s house. It is kind of hard to believe all that. If I were there, I would want to help with whatever I could, and I´m glad that the ward and you all getting together to help one another in times of crisis. It really shows that we accept our covenants of baptism given in Mosiah 18. Give the Piña´s my support. ( A few weeks ago we got the after effects of a hurricane. The city was out of power for a week, and we were out of school! Then just last week the house of a family of 8 in our ward burned down. It's been a difficult thing, but the whole stake has pitched in to help. Luckily, everyone's all right)

And I´m glad to hear that all is well in our family. I hope there haven´t been any more terrible incidents with Grandpa, that he is better. And continue to work hard Jonathan in school. It is difficult to learn, I know that, but the efforts you put forth are very rewarding.

The baptisms went well. I stumbled through the baptismal prayer with Juán, but I made it through and it was a joyous occasion. Elder Nieres baptized Cesia. So I´ve had my first baptism! I can´t wait to have more. We don´t have any baptismal dates planned yet, but I hope we´ll make some this week. It was sad that only Cesia was confirmed on Sunday because Juan was late. One thing we might have to work with is that when it rains here, many don´t attend church. I don´t know how large our ward is supposed to be, but it felt pretty small this Sunday. It wasn´t rainy terribly, but was a little miserable. We need to get more members and investigators to church on sunday, even if it does rain.

That day, we went contacting and door knocking and it was amazing! We taught about half of the houses we approached! That´s about as much as we´ve been able to teach in total. And many of them really seem like they will keep the commitment to pray. We don´t give The Book of Mormon in the first teaching (which I´m not sure I agree with), so the commitment is to read the pamphlet about the restoration and pray about Joseph Smith. One lady, Natividad, has stray children (about 30 or 40) and wanted to know how she could help them. We know that if she lives the Gospel of Christ, her children will see the difference in her and want to know more. And she´ll be a lot happier. She basically asked, “when can I go to church?” Hopefully, we´ll go back today.

Oh, I had my first split this past week so that the district leader could be here to do the interviews. So, I went to another part of town, Moron 2, and spent the day with Elder Willie. It was a great experience. We taught a lot and with the power of the Spirit. We also gave a blessing. I realize that my area, Villa Amelia, is a lot poorer than Moron 2, but that doesn´t matter to me. It is actually better here because there are more people outside in their yards to talk to.

I´ll admit, things aren´t going the greatest with my companion right now. He´s a bit upset with me at the moment. It doesn´t seem to me that we always do the most we can do, or be perfectly obedient as I´d like to be. Also, I like to know where we are going and why and when and he doesn´t really like me asking, especially the when part. So, I asked him about it last night. I try to do it with love, but I´m not exactly the best at that. In order for us to teach and have the Spirit, we need to be unified in purpose. It is hard when I don´t always understand what his purpose is. I want to serve my hardest and help this people the best I can. Have any suggestions about how I can love my companion to bring unity? In what ways can I serve him? I look for ways, but I have a hard time seeing them.

One of the problems is that I still have a really difficult time understanding Castellano. I can get bits and pieces, especially when they speak slower and with some spacing. I try hard to understand, but my mind doesn´t work that quick. I´ll continue to study and listen carefully. I know I´ll be blessed with understanding through the Spirit in my times of need. I´m decent in speaking. My companion says that some of the members say that I speak better Castellano then his last companion, who just returned home. I´m not sure if that is a good thing or not. Well, at least I know I can make my thoughts known without taking an inordinate amount of time. It is still slow and imperfect. But I´ve only been here two weeks? I still have some time yet, but I want to speak and understand like a native as soon as possible.

We had a special opportunity yesterday. Elder Nelsen came. We all had the opportunity to shake his hand, which was particularly special for many of the missionaries. His wife gave a great example in her life of following the Spirit. She learned that if you take a question to General Conference, you always get an answer. She felt she needed to go to BYU to teach, which she didn´t want to do, but she did anyways and was blessed. She also stated that it doesn´t take much to impede us from being all that we can for the Lord. Elder Nelson answered some questions. One question was “This is my birthplace (born here, grew up in Chile), why am I here?” He then spent most of his time speaking about how but unsual means, the Lord accomplishes the impossible. That we are all here for a reason, to do what is impossible for any other to do. Some cool points of his talk were that Christ was baptized at the lowest point of fresh water on Earth and that when Gideon of the Old Testament went to fight against the Mideonites and they had the “drinking” test to reduce their numbers, their ratio became about 1:500 and they defeated their enemies. That is about the same as we are today, about 1 member to 500 others in the world (very roughly). It was great to listen to him.

Oh, I have a lot more respect for the mothers of the world. I had to wash my laundry by hand for the first time last week. And it is difficult and time consuming. I´m going to have to do it again today, and every other week I´m here (at least in Villa Amelia). And also, either I cannot iron or irons really hate me. I burnt two of my short sleeve shirts to a rusty red. I´m going to try to use bleach or something to wash it out. Hopefully they aren´t forever gone. They´re quite important. I think if I use the iron my companion has, instead of the cheap one that was left behind, it won´t burn. Hopefully.

Oh Jessica, this week, “Drake Ranquist knows that Christ suffered for us and gave us the perfect example.”

Thank you for all your support and love. I know that by being here, you are being blessed, a promise of the scriptures and Elder Nelson. I know that this work is the work of God and that we will be blessed and helped to find and teach those that seek and are humble. I know in whom I trust. I know that Christ suffered for us and that we need to repay him in any minor way we can. I know that the church of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, has been restored upon the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I declare this with faith and joy. I know that the Gospel blesses families and that we´ll be together forever if we are faithful. I can´t wait for that day.
With my love,

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 5, 2008

He's There!!!

Drake is now in Argentina and loving it already!

He went down on Monday. My family was just as excited for his travels as he meant that we got a phone call! I wasn't going to be able to talk to him because I wouldn't be at home, but luckily, he remembered my cell phone number (just one number different from his own) and called me in between school and dance! I'll just say that his accent has gotten a lot better...I thought it was one of my Spanish friends playing a prank on me until I heard him say "Elder Ranquesto" (the Spanish last name that Drake and I made up years ago). We talked for about 30 mins about how the MTC was, how my life was going, and college! (AHHHHH!!!!! I can't believe college applications are here!) You'll have to ask my parents about his phone call home.

Then wednesday we got our first email. Though my mom doesn't seem to care for technology all that much, I'm sure she was grateful for it then. What could have taken weeks to recieve took a few seconds! It is a great letter, though Drake did manage to leave out important details like exactly where in the country he was. Hopefully we'll get that information soon.

Hola y Bienvenidos a Argentina,
Ok, I probably won´t be able to say all that I want or all that you might want (especially because this keyboard is sticky and doesn´t want to type) but I arrived perfectly fine with about 6 hrs. of rest on the plane (but not a lick of sleep I think. I really like our mission president and hope to follow his example siempre. I wrote a letter about this at the mission home which I hope you´ll receive in soon.
I´ll skip right to my companion, E. Nieres. He´s great, although he is a native of Chile. He is really going to show me the ropes and he serves others very well. He wants to go into mechanics and if he can, aeronautics. We´ll work hard together side by side.
Oh, one of the rules of the mission that I should say immediately is that I can only use email with family members. I don´t remember the address to reach me right now. I´ll get that to you on Tuesday, our P-day. Oh, and Jessica, can you change my status to the one I sent you about General Conference? Gracias.
We live in a fairly nice apartment. Nowhere has carpets, but we have a tile floor. It isn´t the nicest of places, but I like it nonetheless. This place is different than I´m used to, but I´ve grown to love it already, and I´m sure that will grow exponentially.
My first day was yesterday. We did a ton of walking. We use the bus for larger distances (and we´ll use the train today because my companion is going to a sealing of one of his converts!) but we walk a lot. A lot of the streets in our area are paved but there are a lot that are not. I don’t mind walking at all. We also do a lot of contacting. And we taught a few lessons yesterday. I think we´ll do more of it all as time progresses as well.
Ok, time for the difficult subject, Spanish. I can´t really understand anything. When someone is talking to me, I just nod my head and act as if I understand. Now, during lessons, I at least can get the topic and the generalities because I´m more familiar with that vocabulary, but while on the streets, I have no clue what is going on. Luckily, it seems like they understand me, even if it is slow and broken. It is also difficult since my companion doesn´t really know any English, so I usually have a difficult time understanding what he is trying to tell me. And I don´t know the best method of trying to learn. But, I´m sure the Lord will bless me in my efforts.
My companion had worked hard in this area before we came. We have two baptisms the Saturday after conference! Juan and Cesia. I haven´t met Cesia yet, she wasn´t home yesterday, but I really like Juan. He is abut 16 years old and is a great kid. He was studying English when he came, so I got to help him a bit with his homework. His homework wasn´t the easiest either. We shared a message about the scriptures (he really likes the Book of Mormon) and I shared how when I was younger I didn’t get much out of the scriptures because I´d do it when I was too tired, but now that do it during the day and focus while reading, I learn a lot. I can´t share too much in a lesson because of my Spanish, but I can testify that I know they are true.
Oh, Ranquist is extremely difficult to pronounce in Spanish. I try to simplify it for them by saying Ron-keest, but even that is extremely difficult for them. I´ll respond to Elder.
Guess who is in the other companionship that lives in our apartment? Elder Born! We are still together after the MTC! We get to continue to grow and learn from one another´s experiences and examples.
Not only am I learning a new language, learning how to preach the Gospel, and learning Argentina, I´m learning how to live on my own. I´m very familiar with dorm living, but I´m glad I´m being taught what I need to do in order to go out on my own. Elder Nieres has been helping a lot and has been sharing a lot of stuff to get me started. When we go to the store, I never know exactly what I need or how much of it. Luckily, we have lunch given to us every day. Yesterday we just picked it up from one of the members and went and ate at the church (I kept wanting to type, en la capilla). It was really quite good. And I haven´t had any beef yet, which kind of surprises me. Maybe it isn´t as large here as I thought.
Hmm…what else? I have more time to write email than I did in the past. A full hour instead of just 30 min. Of course, I´ll use that to read your email as well, so in the future I won´t have as much time. What do you want to know about Argentina? I´m not the best at just rambling on about stuff.
So, I tell you that I love you. And I know this is the work of the Lord. I have been amazed that while contacting and door knocking (actually, clapping outside the gate), that often people are standoffish, but polite enough to listen a little, but at some point, often after just one sentence my companion says, they soften some and give us their address or let us teach them then. And the folletos (pamplets) are amazing. They always help spark interest in listening to us. You can be talking and pull out a pamphlet and you can see in their eyes, “I want to read that.”
But to continue with my testimony, I know this work is the work of the Lord. I know that the Spirit will speak through us with power if we open our mouths and the person is willing to learn. I know that we have a living prophet and living apostles and I can´t wait until I get to hear from them on Saturday. I believe we as missionaries get to listen to all of the sessions (a change). And I hope that I can understand them, but I´m afraid I´ll have to listen to it all in Spanish.
I know the scriptures contain the word of God and we can draw nearer to God through prayer. Prayer is what we ask every investigator to do. Always. The 3 major commitments to developing a testimony is olas (orar, leer, assistir la iglesia, siempre) (pray, read, attend church, always). I have a testimony of prayer and you know that.
I hope all is going well with you and I can´t wait to have all the experiences that lay before me. But most of all, I want “Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo a fin de que reciban el Evangelio restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y su Expiación, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepción del don del Espíritu Santo, y el perseverar hasta el fin.”

Again with love,
Elder Ranquist

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Exciting Package! (oh, and Elder Ranquist leaves tomorrow!)

My family recieved a very unexpected package this week - from the Mission President of the MTC! In it was a video of Drake accompanying another Elder at a mission farewell named Taylor. Drake and Taylor met at BYU. Taylor had to bring his own pianist for his singing lessons and Drake had to do service hours for his scholarship, so they found each other. When they saw each other at the MTC they got together and asked the President if they could still practice. This is what has come from it! I don't think it's a typical occurance to be able to see your missionary until he's home or in pictures, but we sure appreciated it! The president and his wife sent a note thanking my parents for encouraging Drake to play the piano.
(advice: before you watch it, scroll to the bottom of the screen and mute out the blogs background music)

Now for the letter. I am going to edit out part of it, as all it is is Drake's travel information.

Hola mi familia, ¿Debo escribir esta carta en Español? No, probablemente no. Entonces, I´ll write in English. Before I get to what you really want to know, I'll write a few other things first.

The Spirit continues to guide me when I need it. While we were in the RC (the call referral center), a lot of the other Elders were making Outbound calls in Spanish. I don't think we are supposed to unless told specifically by a teacher to do so, so I decided not to do it. About halfway through the time, I felt that I should make a Spanish call, just one. I felt good about it and I knew that that call was for a purpose. So, I made the call and it was answered. It was the wrong number, but we still talk with them. I mainly just read the scripts, and invited him to receive The Book of Mormon and the Missionaries. He accepted! I stumbled through getting his address (he was really nice and patient with me) and he will have the missionaries teach him. I know the Spirit led me to make that call at that specific time when he would answer the phone. I know I'll continue having those experiences. But I also know that we are sufficiently taught so that we can make the decisions on our own. We will get inspiration from time to time, but I will have to make decisions on my own whom to approach as well.

Ok, time for the important part. I'm leaving on Monday! I have to be at the travel office at 10 AM, a much better time than most of the other Elders (3 AM). The six of us who are going to Buenos Aires are travelling together. The other three in our disctrict are taking a crazy route to California, to Chile, and then to Buenos Aires. I guess they'll get to Mendoza the next day... (This is the part where Drake describes his travel arrangements...including when he gets to call home! The church decided to let missionaries call home while at the airport to prevent families from trying to visit them and creating a scene. They couldn't let the people in Utah have the advantage now could they?) ...And Elder Born, my companion, is our travelling leader. He has never been on a plane in his life! So, I get the great opportunity of coaching him through the experience and explaining everything to him. It should be a good experience.

I can't wait to go. Yes I love it here, but I want to go out and actually do the Lord's Missionary Work. It will be very difficult for me to overcome my hesitancies of approaching random people, but I want them to know the truth as I do! I know my Spanish isn't perfect yet, but I do believe they will be able to understand what I say. And I think I'll be able to catch 25% of what they say now. And I know over the first few weeks, that percentage will grow substancially. I don't like change really, but I like the opportunity for new learning experiences and what a chance to learn this will be!

As always, I know this is where the Lord wants me to be. He has given me experiences to know the truth of this Gospel and requires that I give back by losing myself in the work. I know that He suffered for us so that we can overcome both the physical and spiritual death. I know that He did this out of love for us. I know the power of the Book of Mormon. I love it. And I want all to come to that same love. I love the strength of the Spirit that comes from the Book of Mormon and from all truth. I love to feast on it continually.

I love you my family. I'm looking forward to being able to talk with you by phone. I'll see you in about 22 months now.

With love, Elder Drake Ranquist

I can't believe he leaves tomorrow! From now on the letters will be coming from the mission field! We wish him good luck!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menos de dos semanas mas

For those of you who don't know, Drake has less that two weeks left in the MTC! It's crazy how time passes so quickly. He says that his Spanish has improved tremendously and showed it by bearing his testimony in Spanish at the end of one of his hand-written letters. If I get the chance I'll put it and the translation up.

Dear Family,

We are all starting to get excited to head down to Argentina. We should get our flight plans on either Friday or Saturday. I hope our Visas have gone through. They should. When we head out we are allowed to call home in the airport. Do you still have the 1-800 number? If so, I don't remember it. Can you send it to me? That would be very much appreciated and could make things much easier on us. Yesterday, the older district left (all except 4 elders going to Mexico waiting for Visas) so we are the oldest now. It is kind of weird to think about that. Like I've said before, time doesn't exist. I know I'll be home in no time.

I've been thinking about how I can better share with my friends the Gospel and had an idea. Jessica, every week, in my email, I'll send a short sentence that you can put as my status on facebook. Also, you can open up a note and edit it each week to keep a record on facebook of all of these. You can name that note something like "Knowledge of Drake Ranquist." The first status message I would like to be "Drake Ranquist knows that God is our Father in Heaven and loves us immensely." Do you think that is a good idea? You and the rest of the family can answer any questions or discussions those messages create.

Oh, Dad, several of the guys in my zone really like your scripture holsters. It is a great joke. They want one. It doesn't hold my scriptures very well at all, but could be excellent for pass-along cards and such. I might use it, I might not. I'll find out in the field.

Thank you so much for the food and the letters. They are amazing. I love the Gardetto's, cheese sticks, crackers, and fruit snacks. And so does my roommates. We are quite communal with our food. I'll admit, them moreso than me. And greater thanks for the letters of Elder Gilmore. They really do give all of us a better idea of what to expect when we get out into the field. It is amazing that we could get them for our mission. That was a great idea to send them to me. My whole district will benefit.

Yesterday Elder Hinckley came and spoke (son of President Hinckley). One of my favorite things he said was a story about his father. A Sister asked him how we can face our difficult times and be happy all of the time. He related how Pres. Hinckley started to lose his hearing at the end of his life, so Elder Hinckley asked him, "What do you do in meetings when you can't hear?" Pres. Hinckley replied, "I fake it." There is so much truth in that statement. Happiness is a choice, so sometimes when we choose to be happy we fake it for a time and then it becomes part of us. The same goes for all of the attributes of Christ we try to develop. We say "I want to be more humble." So, we try to be more humble around others, we "fake it," and hopefully that attribute settles into us more and becomes apart of who we are.

I'm very glad Grandpa is doing better and that the family is doing well. That makes me quite happy.

Jonathan, I wish you my blessings with your "Spiritual Fast." It sounds difficult, but it sounds like a great idea. I know that when you sacrifice things to the Lord, the Lord desires to bless you with his whole heart. If you pray and make that commitment to sacrifice those things to the Lord, and you remain faithful to it, you'll be amazed with the blessings the Lord grants to you. First off, he'll give you more time to study for school, so you can do well there, and in study of the scriptures. Know that learning isn't easy (and it isn't as easy for me as you probably think.) I know that it takes a lot of work and diligence. But learning is one of the greatest gifts we have. But even greater than that gift is the gift of the Spirit. As you sacrifice to the Lord, the Spirit will be with you more, will teach you, comfort, and guide you. The Spirit is amazing. I love it. It doesn't come to you, you have to seek it. But when you do, it overwhelms you with joy. I'll pray for these blessings to be upon you as you fulfill your commitment to stay away from computer games, popular music, and popular TV for this month. I know the Lord has the power to grant these blessings to you as you are faithful.

And grandma and grandpa, thank you for the "missionary moment" and keep up the good work. Missionary work is scary, yes, but very rewarding. And I can't wait to face it head on, to be in the full service of the Lord.

Oh, another thing I've realized about myself as I've been here is how much happier I am after singing or humming a hymn. Music has so much power over me and over all of us. Any time I feel somewhat down, I hum a hymn to myself now and it fires me up again.

As always, I know the power that God has to benefit us. And I know that we have direct access to that power through prayer and through the priesthood. Seek his blessings and have faith in that power. I know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going and I'm grateful I can share these simple truths to others. I know how important Christ is in the plan of salvation and I give glory to Him and our Father, to making "immortality and eternal life" possible for all of us.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Jonathan starts a spiritual fast tomorrow. A challenge that his whole seminary class is taking. They are to refrain from TV, computer, and music for a month, other than for church or school related things. We'll see how it goes. I'm glad that I have so many EFY and Young Women's cds to listen to in the car...I'm not going to lie, I would probably get annoyed if we had to listen to primary songs for a whole month! Good luck to him!

Drake said that he was going to send me a sentence every week to put up as his status on facebook. If I can, I want to keep a running tab on here as well. Let's see if I'm technologically competent or not and can figure out how.