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