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)


video




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.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On a happier note!

Dear Family,

This past week has been a great week. I have been healthy and had energy and more importantly, been happy. I was more happy and joyful this past week than really I remember in my life. I don't know why exactly. I felt the spirit often and just had a good outlook on everything. I can't wait to get to Argentina to share this happiness with everyone I can. I want to "always have my line in the water" no matter if I can speak spanish well or not.

It seems like I am asking for addresses quite often, but I thought it might be good to have the address to our Augason cousins, to tell them about what I am doing and bear my testimony to them. What do you think would be the best thing to do for them?

This past week I've met with several more friends from my past life. Two of which are companions! Elder David Ludlow and Elder Salyers (wow, can't remember his first name at the moment, but I want to say something like Brandon...). The first I know well from BYU, who was the music director for our ward choir while I played for him. I might play "Oh Lord my Redeemer" with him for Sis. Boone as well. Elder Salyers is a friend from Louisville. We met at the Stake High Adventure and were together throughout Seminary. Jessica, you know him. He called you "Ducky 2." The other friend that was great to see was Elder Austin Miner, my good physics friend from the past semester at BYU. We all got overzealous in putting away chairs and he was there with us. He is going to Japan and seems to be doing well (although he can be harder to read than me at times).

I'm sorry if my last letter felt like I was chastising you too much. I read in President Benson's first talk as Prophet and he said "Children, support your parents in their efforts to have daily family scripture study." I also had come across many promises, both temporally and spiritually, by Elder Perry. I wanted my family to gain those greater blessings. I know you already do a good job and I know we have a wonderful family. I just wanted you to gain greater blessings. It is your decision Dad and I'll respect it and say no more.

I wanted to tell you of the miracle that occured this past week. A miracle of the power of prayer. Your letter about how grandpa had his medication changed is the miracle. Last week, I prayed that Grandpa would improve or that you would be led by the Spirit to know what to do for him. I asked that one way that is possible is if a new medication could be given to Grandpa. I prayed for that very thing. I know God hears our prayers and when we ask in faith he answers them,
"often in suprisingly direct ways." (Can't remember whether that is from Preach my Gospel or a conference talk I read).

President Uchtdorf made a surprise appearance yesterday for our devotional. It was excellent as always. Here's a quote from it I know you'll love dad. "Time flies, but we are the pilot." He talked about how we shouldn't underestimate ourselves, the power we've been given, or the power of the Lord behind us. He counciled us to pray every night to ask the Lord for acceptance for what we have done throughout the day. He also told us how the first presidency prays for the missionaries and their families every day. I feel so strengthened being a missionary. I have felt strong the past year, but so much stronger here. I am with the Lord (that is one thing he also said, don't ask "Is the Lord with me?" but "Am I with the Lord?"). I hope you feel strengthened by all of the prayers going to you.

I love to hear from the prophets, seers, and revelators. I love to study their words. I wish I had more time every day for personal study. It seems like I only get to scratch the surface of the teachings. Even though I know most of it, I know that through repition, we can receive more revelation. That is another thing Pres. Uchtdorf touched yesterday. I have wondered if I wanted to become a religious professor instead, so that I could study the words of the Lord and His servants continually throughout my life, but I'm too slow of a reader, don't like to write how they have to that much, and I like math and astrophysics too much. But I do plan on keeping up a strong scripture study thorughout my life.

I know that God desires to bless us and that he is blessing us in great ways. I love My Father and all He does for His children. I know this is His Church on the Earth and that His servants receive revalation from Him. I know that the priesthood is His great power that we excercise, according to our faith. I know all these things because of the spirit of revelation I have, that we all can have, through prayer and fasting to have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Thank you for your continual prayers and please always remember me in your prayers. The more God blesses me with His Spirit, the better able I can do His will, which I want to do. I glory in Him in the name of Jesus Christ.

Love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reprimand

Dear Family,

I have now been here 5 weeks and have less than a month less. Over the past week, I wrote in my planner some of the things I wanted to write home about, so that I would remember. I don't know what I would do without my planner. I think I might keep a written planner despues de la misión. Sorry, sometimes I accidentally switch into spanish. (Like when we sing There is sunshine in my soul, I can't sing it in English. I automatically sing "Tengo gozo en mi alma hoy") That said after the mission.

So, yes, spanish is going well for me. We are now preparing to teach the first lesson in Spanish this friday. Teaching in Spanish isn't too bad. A little slower. And our companionship isn't as unified because I know more spanish than he does, so I end up teaching most of it. But, he is coming along well and knows about as much as I do now.

About our companionship. You talked about how much you hated companionship inventory Dad. I love them. It has made our companionship grow so much. We learn more about one another and draw closer together. We don't get annoyed with each other much at all and we are good friends, so that helps. But I think it is a good thing.

On a random side note and for my physics friends especially. I have learned that I speak at the resonance frequency of the stalls in the bathrooms in the resident halls. It comes to life with sound when I speak. It is very fun to play with, to just hum softly and it resonate loudly.

Oh, I was wondering if you could send me a copy of the poem that says "Get up my son and win the race." I'd kind of like to have it. Too bad I can't really use any of them to teach because they aren't in spanish.

This past week, I played for Elder Taylor Morris twice. We performed in his departing devotional (in front of about 300 people!) and for the Senior Missionary Orientation. He was amazing both times and I managed well enough. I told him that I would play for him any time he needs me after the mission. The Departing meeting made me want to leave and get out to do the real work I've been called to do. But, I still need a lot more preparation.

Our zone leaders had the idea of our parents sending thank you letters to our Branch Presidency, our current parents. They do a lot for us. Here is the address of our branch president if you wish to send a brief letter. But, don't use this to enter into any kind of correspondance. Do what you think is best.

President Thatcher
1882 E. Maple St.
Mapleton, UT 84664

Yesterday, Elder Cook surprised us all by coming to speak at our devotional. It is always great to hear from the apostles. He spoke mainly about how we have to teach to the needs of the investigators. That is the reason that memorized lessons were done away with. That we need to adjust each lesson to the individual investigator. The other main point is that we need to focus on commitments. We are out declaring repentence and we need to make sure the investigators understand the importance of changing their lives so that they can commit to stay in the church for their entire life.

One of the things he talked about was that this is the best place we could be to for our families. I know that. There is one thing I'd like to talk about. I wanted to say this when I was home, but never did. Dad, especially, I think we can do better at family scripture study and prayer. Don't worry so much about getting to bed on time or having too much homework. Jessica and Jonathan will get enough rest and will find time to finish everything. I think that the entire family read scriptures on their own, so, you could study conference talks or Preach my Gospel instead to apply the scriptures to our lives more. And you don't have to do it at night. Just sometime when everyone is home. So, will you do that? I know that as you do, you will, especially Jessica and Jonathan, will receive greater strength from the spirit to resist all of the temptations they will face and that they will grow in their testimonies.

I love our family and I love how strong it is. But I know it can always improve. Thank you for all of you love and prayers that you've sent. I am always glad to hear from you. I know that, just as Elder Cook stated, that this mission will strengthen our family and I would do this just for you guys if that were necessary. I know the truthfulness of the Gospel. I know that the Church is the only true Church upon the Earth and that it can bless ourselves and the lives of all of those around us. I know that Joseph Smith was called as the prophet of this dispensation and the President Monson is the current prophet. I say these things in the name of He who I represent, Jesus Christ.

With great love,
Elder Drake Ranquist


Apparently we aren't reading scriptures as a family enough. I would like to hear what you think...here's the situation. We read scriptures about 3 times a week. When we don't, it's either because it's late, or we kids have homework to do or a test to study for. Usually on the days that we don't I get home from dance around 9:30, eat something, and do homework. Jonathan's bedtime is at 9:30. We just find that there isn't time. We can't do it at any other time other then night- I leave the house at 5:40 and don't get back until 9:30. Dad's work (pilot) doesn't allow us to do it in the morning, and frankly I already wake up at 4:50 so I can do personal scripture study in the morning, and don't want to wake up any earlier.
Any suggestions anyone? We had a family meeting and cannot figure out another way to do it, except just to try hard, like we always have. We did decide that no matter what we can have a family prayer every night.
All I can say is at least our missionary is doing well and taking his work to heart!