Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday updates

I've decided to only update on Sunday...I'm just so busy that I have no other time! I figure reading through a missionary's letter and putting it up for others to see is an ok sunday activity. Hopefully I won't be struck down for it! So here's our most recent letter:
It has now been a month that I've been a missionary. One month ago was the first day on my mission after being set apart. On friday, it will have been two months of being here at the MTC. Wow. It does fly. Actually, it doesn't really feel like time passes at all anymore. I have no concept of time, days, hours, months, years. If it didn't get cold when winter comes, I probably would have no clue how long I've been here. (I don't think he proof read this. whoops!)

Sorry Dad for not wishing you happy birthday last week. I was going to, but I forgot while writing the email. And I ran out of time to write any other letters home. We're not supposed to write on any other day, so I've had to wait until now. Happy 50th! I hope you've really enjoyed the past half century (I only say it because you said it to me first). I hope the next half of the century will go very well for you as well. Thank you for all your help and service in our family and for me.

Along with forgetting things, E. Born has definitely realized that forgetting things is a talent I have. I leave stuff everywhere. I lose stuff all of the time. Luckily, I generally remember exactly where I left it. We've had a number of search and rescue escapades for my scriptures, or my blue card, or my Red Book (spanish book), or whatever. I really should try to keep better track of stuff, but how? (my parents think this is hilarious. He's actually going to have to learn how to put things back where they belong, like they've been telling him to do his whole life! A mission will teach you so many things...)

This week has been a little difficult for me because I've gotten a bit sick. The virus that had been going around finally got to me. Monday I was really slow and dragging. Sunday as well. Every sunday, my companion and I go to choir practice. But because of how I was feeling, we were thinking about taking a nap instead. We decided to pray. We came to the descision to still go to choir.

While at choir, E. Born saw a girl he knew from home. But, I also met up with E. Morris (Taylor Morris, the guy I played the piano for all year at BYU). He said that the accompanist that he had found was leaving and he needed me to play for him. So, I'll be auditioning with him on Thursday. There's a good chance that we'll be performing sunday and maybe a few other times. So, that was a really good thing that came out of going to Choir.

But something better came out of going to choir. We got a nap afterwards anyways!!! We got both! That was nice.

This week is when every one starts arriving to BYU. In the missionary handbook, it says that I shouldn't communicate with anyone of the opposite sex near mission boundaries. So, Zephne and I won't be writing each other until I leave. She'll write letters, but save them and send them once I get down there. And she'll see the website. But, yeah, it is hard and I don't think it would matter much, but I think I should follow it nonetheless. Serving the Lord is about sacrifice. (I decided to leave this paragraph on here, zephne)

I guess I should start to answer some of your letters.

Yes I have seen E. Matheson. Several times actually. (I'll admit, sometimes I forget whether his name is Andrew Matheson, or Matthew Anderson). (and here he's known Andrew practically his whole life. He's such a guy) He's doing well. And about spanish musical numbers, every hymn we sing, except the sacrament hymn is in spanish. Lots of spanish is sung.

Give grandma and grandpa my well wishes. I pray for you all. Thank them for the brief thought. I am trying to make every day terrific.

And also oh, doesn't date the messages. So, it would be nice if you wrote the date at the top or something. Or I can write it down. Do I need to date these emails?

We've continued to work on Spanish and teaching the second lesson. I love it when I truely feel like I'm teaching with the Spirit. On those occassions, you learn from the words yourself speak. And it is so good the E. Born and I work so well together. We generally only go about 4-5 sentences before switching. The scriptures also teach so well. Some of my favorites have become 2 Ne. 2 and 9, Alma 34,40-43. So much great stuff in there. Also in the beginning of Alma, but I don't remember the number.

I know this is true. I know that the Lord is supporting me and quickening my learning. I know that the Holy Ghost does testify of truth and can bring the neccessary change in people's lives.

I love you all,

Elder Ranquist

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Drake sent pictures!!!

We just received an actual hand-written letter from Drake! (I should probably get used to calling him Elder Ranquist, but I don't know if that will ever happen) Though "real" letters are nice...Drake's handwriting takes skill to decipher, taking after his dad and grandpa.
As the letter is on paper and I don't feel like typing it all up (not to mention that my dad has it with him at the moment for a home teaching lesson-I'm guessing that his families are going to get to know Drake really well within the next two years) I will just type some excerpts from it and the previous letter which seems to never have been posted. I'm slacking on the job already, but hey, seminary, school, dance, youth group, piano,family and friends does not lead to a lot of leisure time.

so, for the excerpts from the emailed letter that I failed to post...

Dear Family,

This week has been a pretty good week...that is if I can remember exactly what happened. Time is so distorted here. I can't figure out when anything occurred. Like my companion said, "It feels like this morning was last week and last week was this morning."
We've pretty much completed working on lesson one, about God our Father, Prayer, prophets, Christ's ministry, restoration, and the Book of Mormon, this past week and now we are starting on the second lesson--the plan of salvation. Elder Born and I do a fairly good job of teaching together and switching off. And we do a good job of testifying and bringing in the Spirit. We were able to finally figure out how to teach the first lesson simply and easily with a lot of help and now we face the task of making the plan of salvation easy to understand. It is so easy to go too deep. But, we'll get it.

Then he lists the people who are leaving for their missions...if you want this just ask.
E. Martin is our district leader. He does a great job and works hard. He is from Canada.

I'll be back to finish my letter. I need to go put my laundry in the dryer.
(yay! he is actually doing his own laundry!)
Sorry for the interruption. I'm back now.

E. Martin does a great job at being District leader. He has a lot of meetings and interviews he has to conduct. I feel sorry that he has to take aways so much Spanish study time to do that. We try to help out. E. Knight is of Mexican descent, but his parents didn't teach him Spanish, so he is often coming to me for help and translations. He's a nice guy. E. Hollinger is really quite quiet. But he still tries hard to be a good missionary.

Now to the Buenos Aires West Elders. E. Page and E. Bunn. Those two are interesting and fun. I'm not sure how well they would go with anyone else, but they sure do go very well with each other. They are constantly building off of each other's jokes. They also work hard and practice more than a lot of us. They aren't afraid at all to approach random people to practice contacts in Spanish. They're different, but great Elders.

Now for my roommates. We are also all going to Buenos Aires West. E. Chamberlain and E. Hinton. E. Chamberlain is the tallest in our district. In his pictures with his family, he's a head taller than them. He's a pretty easy going guy. E. Hinton is another one of the shy type, but still is confident in himself. I wish I knew more about them actually.

Then it is E. Born and me. We're still getting along really well. I'm still working on helping him focus more and he's working on me being able to approach others. Actually, we're trying to do that together. We know the doctrines. We can teach. But overcoming the desire to seclude ourselves with others, to approach others without hesitation is difficult. But we will do it.

I'm grateful for the examples of the Elders in my district and will miss the ones that are leaving.

I don't have much time left, but I want to describe the devotional yesterday. Elder Oaks came and spoke about the sacrament. His main focus was that we need to properly and worthily take the sacrament so that we can invoke the promise of always have the Spirit to be with us in our lives. That we should prepare for the sacrament through prayer each week. It was a really powerful talk. It wasn't long. He ended about 15 min. early, but he had the Spirit in that room. He listed a ton of scriptures, which by doing so will fill up a few of my personal study.

I have a testimony of the cleansing effect of the sacrament and that through those covenants we renew, we can have the Spirit. That we need to keep those sacrament prayers in our heart to always remember Him and keep His commandments. That is one of the sad things about missing or not attending church. You lose the cleanliness and thus the Spirit.

I know this work to be right. And I love you.

-Elder Ranquist

I have a feeling we're going to get a lot of testimonies out of Drake within the next couple of'll be great!

okay, since this post is getting pretty long and my dad is still not back from Home Teaching, I'll wait to put up the written letter. Other than school related papers and letters to the "only broke up because I'm going on a mission" girlfriend(which apparently are much longer than the letters we receive-we can only guess whom he chooses to write to first) I'm not sure if Drake has written so much in his life.

and now for the pictures...maybe you can figure out which Elder is which from Drake's description in the previous letter. I can't...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DAD turns 23...(+27!)

Today was my dad's big five-oh!!! He's pretty proud of his recently aquired AARP card. My mom hates it...if he is that old (half a century, to put it in perspective) then that means she must be getting older also! Oh no, secret's out! Despite her non-approval however, my dad still turned 50 today. He's now officially a grandpa age, balding and gray hair including-but us kids keep him young! Don't expect any grandchildren yet!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Letter, school, and my birthday!!!

First, It's my birthday!!! I'm 17 now, and sooo excited for the times to come.

Today was also Jonathan's first day of high school! My parents will wake up early one time every year, to get the "before school" or in this case, "before seminary" picture. Good luck to him!!!

More importantly though, Drake didn't forget about us that first week! He wrote a letter, but it just didn't send. I actually do not have it at the moment, but I do have his most recent. It is weird and neat to see the transformation that took place in only a few weeks.

Dear Family,

First off. Happy Birthday Jessica! Sorry, it is a bit difficult to get you anything from here, but I still want to wish you a happy birthday. You are now 17! That is the age I feel like still. I feel older than 16 now. And actually, I'm getting used to the idea that you are at least 16 as well. I hope all goes well for you. Let me know what Aaron does for you. Hopefully he makes it a special day. Oh, and I forgot to tell you this before I left. If you get married before I get back, I'll braid your legs. You can be engaged. That is fine. But I want to bet there before you get married. Also, enjoy your senior year.

Ok, what should I say now. I'm doing very well. Thank you for all of your letters and the package of food. That should last me a while. Thanks. I'm learning Spanish at a pretty quick pace. Spirit is helping me, and my previous experience. I'm also getting better at teaching. This Gospel is so simple, yet so important. It is hard to get across everything we want them to know. We just want to go here read this, pray about this, and this and this. It truly is a good experience.

The consul of Argentina came in yesterday. I don't think we'll have delays in Visas like the Mexican Elders. They get stuck here for weeks on end and have been sent elsewhere in the states. He was nice and explained a lot. I want to travel Argentina more. I guess I'll have to go back a few times to see everything.

On sunday, during priesthood, the Branch president came up to me and asked, "Can you play a musical number in sacrament meeting?" I had only 1 hour to prepare something. It went alright. I'll probably use some P-days in the future and some MDT time getting stuff worked up. I also tried out for a musical number for one of the firesides or devotionals for in front of everyone. I auditioned as an accompanist, meaning I went in, played the piano for Sis. Boone (Mission President's wife) and said that if she found a singer who needed a pianist, she could contact me. She really liked what I played (it was one of the best I had played that piece) and if it does occur, she'll get ahold of me. But, I surprised her, no one has ever come in and auditioned in that manner before.

Elder Born and I really get along well. We have similar personalities, which helps a lot. We are still different, but we can understand one another pretty well. He is slightly nerdy, musical, had a serious girlfriend, and has a strong testimony just like me, with a desire to work hard. He has become a good friend. And it really does feel wierd when we get separated.

Today our zone is getting a new district of Elders. So, after this we will no longer be the new ones around. We'll be the experienced ones. We'll be the ones who they think are fluent in Spanish. We'll help them out as much as we can and as much as we have time. (There is so much to do and it feels like so little time). It will be fun getting them. We are losing a few elders. Watch out for an Elder Grossman and an Elder Harmon. They are headed out to the Louisville mission, spanish speaking. They are our zone leaders. (Elder Harmon says "feed me well"). I have a lot of respect for them. They should do amazing things out there.

I hope school is going to go well for you Jessica and Jonathan. Good luck with your senior and freshman years. Wow! Don't get senioritis Jessica (I doubt you will) and Jonathan, just give it your all and enjoy. It should be a great experience. But also remember who you are if you are ever tempted. Remember you are God's child and rejoices when you choose right. Give Him cause to rejoice in you. I know he already has. But let that be an eternal rejoicing in him.

I was wondering if you could send me a few addresses. Could you talk with Brother Brown to see if he wants me to send him a letter to the youth in our ward? Ask him how often, how long, and what he wants me to tell them exactly. And if he wants me to send any specifically to one of them, tell him to give hem their addresses as well. Sarah sent me a letter, so I'm going to reply to her and going to add a small message to John. Also, do you want me to write Brother Dunford at all Dad? You are his home teacher and you have stewardship over him. So, what can I do to help him? Let me know what his address is if you want me to mail him and what I should and shouldn't say. If you want me to do it soon, send it via Dear Elder. Dear Elder gets things here the quickest.

This is a strengthening experience that I'm glad to have. I'm not having as hard of a time as I was last week. I have regained all of my energy and just want to keep going at it. The spirit is really strong here and I feel it daily. Thank you for all of your prayers. I know as they are given in faith, they will benefit me for the Lord's errand. I'm going to write what I wrote in a journal entry later on today in a letter, so you'll get that in a few days. But know that I know this work is the most important work on the Earth. "Oh that I were an angel" to bring this simple knowledge to all of the inhabitants of the earth. It amazes me that others don't know or don't understand these very simple concepts. I love this work and I love the people here and the people I will be teaching. I love you as well. Thank you for all that you have done for me.

Elder Ranquist

This actually brought tears to my eyes. For anyone that knows him, this letter made me think a lot of my Grandpa Ranquist. I hope they continue in that fashion. I've just realized what strength I will find through my brother and his mission. This will me an amazing couple of years.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Drake's Farewell letter on Facebook

Before Drake left, he wrote a note on facebook explaining to all of his friends where he will be and what he will be doing.

I have been called to labor in the Argentina, Buenos Aires West mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will be down there for two years declaring the good word of Christ. To open the hearts of men, women, and children to the reception of the Spirit, that they may receive joy such that there won't be room enough to receive. I will be proclaiming Christ's atonement that we may receive forgiveness. That as we repent and change our lives to conform with His will, we will receive great blessings. That baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are necessary to return to our Father who is in Heaven, who is our literal father of our spirits who desires us to become more like him. That the purpose of this life is to gain a body, learn from our experiences, receive Christ, and prepare for greater joy afterwards. That the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true words of God and that if you read and ponder them, they will bring you closer to God and the Holy Ghost. I will preach these words to all that will receive me. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers over the next two years.

We'll keep him in our thoughts and prayers too.

The First Letter

So far we have recieved one letter. On the missionary's first day at the MTC, they are required to write a letter home to their mother. He hasn't written one since...we'll have to work on that. Here are some excerpts from the now-cherished letter:

I'm here at the MTC for my first day. It has been great, even though a little hectic and confusing. 3 mission riules they are already trying to get us to do are to button our coats when we stand, keep hands out of pockets, and not to say "guys." It is difficult.
My companion is Elder Born. We have gotten along great so far. (keep in mind he's been there for a matter of hours) He also really wants to do choir. He's from centerville, Utah.
The Spirit is strong here and I love it. They stress obedience and I want to be my best. I love the Lord and can't wait to get to work.

Hopefully we hear from him again soon!

The Dreaded Drop-off

After going to Walmart a total of 5 times in two days, it was finally time to drop Drake off. On July 30th the family went the the MTC (otherwise known as the Mother's Torture Chamber) in Provo, Utah to say a last goodbye to Elder Ranquist. After listening to a few talks of the MTC Mission President and his wife, the time came. Drake took the Mission President's advice to heart. "Use the bandaid method. The quicker you go, the less painful it will be." Once it was time for the goodbyes he gave me a hug, Jonathan a hug, Dad a hug, Mom a kiss, said "Love you" and was gone. I think it took under 2 minutes.
For those who are curious, I think the bandaid method did help my mom, though she obviously would have wanted more time with him. My brothers and I saw her cry more tears when we would say things like "this is the last time you will say good night to him" and "this is the last meal you will ever have with him" (something we took upon ourselves to do quite often). Even now, she'll get a far-off look when you speak Spanish around her. Does a mother ever get used to her son being gone?

Saying Farewell

Though you are not technically supposed to have a farewell, we thought that it couldn't hurt to invite the neighbors over to explain where Drake will be going and what he will be doing for two years. The party was our best neighborhood church-related activity yet-- two whole families showed up! (Previous years, when we've tried to show a church video or something of the like, no one has come...even though we had homemade ice cream!) The families, plus a lot of Drake's friends and the few relatives we have here in Kentucky made for a comfortably full house and a good time. Drake's missionary experiences began, as he answered the questions of curious friends and neighbors. It was called a success when at the end, we discovered that two of the pass-along cards we had sitting out on the table were gone!!! It's a start!