Sunday, December 27, 2009

Recordando el nacimiento de Cristo

22 Dec 2009

Dear Family,

First of all, I want to ask forgiveness for not writing yesterday. We had our P-day Christmas activity as a mission, got back kind of late, and when we went to the cyber to write you, the page wouldn´t open. I think the server had crashed because all of the missionaries were trying to sign on at the same time. But, we´re taking time now to write.

This Christmas, I believe I´ll be calling around 5 o´clock, Argentine time. I think there is a two hour difference, so it would be about 3 there. But I don´t remember very well. We didn´t change the hour for day light savings time this year. These are my plans for Christmas. First thing, I´ll open the package you sent me (I received it last week). Then, we´ll head out to Trujui to have our Zone Activity in the morning (because all of Argentina is asleep Christmas morning because they celebrate at midnight). We´ll eat tacos and completos (hot dogs with avocado and tomatoes). Afterwards, we are going to go do service for our bishop, cutting a bunch of tall grass (at least we´ll have weed wackers this time instead of do it all with machete). After this service, we´ll go to the church to call. So, I´m not sure if there is a specific hour when we´ll be able to call. If we finish after 5, I´ll probably let my companion call first, meaning that I´ll call closer to 7. And it will be 40 min. as in past occassions. I´m looking forward to hearing your voices too.

In talking with President Benton, he wants to let you know Dad that he understands what you are going through. He had a similar back operation and that it took a good while to heal. He says, just as I know you´ve heard a few dozen times, that it just takes patience. It will all turn out for the best in the end and is more for your spiritual progression than for physical or economical progression. He also wants to know if you know Jim Heck. He is/was head of human resources of UPS and was a counselor in the Bishopric with President Benton in Park City, Utah. To the president´s knowledge, he is inactive now, but would like to know if you know anything about him.

With the holiday season, I´m also trying to get my shoes repaired to be able to last until the end of my mission. I´ve already taken the shoes that had the hole worn through the sole to be repaired. I think I´m also going to have to buy new insoles for them too. And I have a hole in the side of the shoes that I bought for christmas last year. I´ll have to take them in. So, I believe I´ll have to take out some more money from the bank to make such reparations.

Sorry Mom if I haven´t taken pictures of Jardines yet. It really isn´t the lush gardens you might have thought. It is very similar to many of my past areas with half of the streets asphalted and the other half with dirt roads. They make the asphalted roads just so that the buses can pass. And I´m really not sure when I will get around to taking photos of the area either.

Yesterday´s P-day Navideño was really great. We started off listening to the testimonies of the missionaries that are going home today (2 weeks early so that they can be with their families for Christmas), like E´Lloyd, E´Willie, and E´Cumrine. I´ll miss them. And Jessica, I think that E´Willie will be at BYU next semester studying civil engineering. He´s an RM I approve of. I´ll always remember the kindness he gave me on my first divisions at the beginning of my mission. I also approve of E¨Lloyd if you every run across him. So, anyways, then we listened to the First Presidency Devotional. It was great to hear. Then we had a fun competition of asking for references and we had skits. I´m grateful to have a loud voice, because it was really hard to hear the other people. We had some really good laughs.

I know that the Christmas time is to remember our Savior. I know that he is the Christ, the living Son of God. I am constantly testifying of him because it is the knowledge that I value most. I´ll never forget when I came to know for myself. I know this work is the work that God has sent us, imperfect and inexperienced youth, to do. And I know that true joy come in and only through His Son and the commandments that he gave to us. I know that, even if at times I feel like a rebellious soul. But we will move forward always.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, December 20, 2009

La confianza del Obispo

14 Dec 2009

Dear Family,

Wow, I can´t believe I´ve been here in Jardines 3 weeks already. But, I like this ward. Our main objective when we got here was to gain the confidence of the Bishop. I think we´ve already acheived that goal. He´s a great Bishop and is enjoyable to be around. I really liked it yesterday when we were in ward counsel and he was talking about how having all of the organizations work together to further missionary work, the ward would be strengthened. He said that it was necessary that they work to do so because we the missionaries leave. He said, “We never want the missionaries to leave, but especially not these Elders. I don´t know, but there is something special about these Elders.” That made me feel really good, especially when it shows that we are accomplishing the objective President Benton gave us.

This transfer, we have been praying and fasting to be able to find a family to bring to church. Especially a father that would make a good leader in the home and in the church. We think we found him this past week. On wednesday, while we were walking, (wow, a lot of w´s), we passed by a house and my companion said that he felt we needed to talk with them. So, we went and taught a good lesson. When we went back on friday, we didn´t have time to stay and teach, because we had a Family Home Evening activity for the ward, so we invited him to come. We weren´t expecting him to come to much, but he did! Not many members came, so we turned the activity into a lesson for him about the plan of salvation. At the end, I asked, “What are you willing to do to enter the Celestial Kingdom to be with God and your family forever?” With that question, he told us about how he wanted to give up drinking because it was ruining his family. So, we talked with him about it and I asked “So, when you´re with your friends and they invite you to drink, what are you going to say?” He said, “No.” “But you drank with us last week, what happened?” And he replied, “No, I don´t drink anymore.” It was good to see that resolution. We invited him to come to church, but he said that he had a small work to do on Sunday morning.

But, Sunday came and Julio Cézar Escobar came too! He was able to arrange it so that he could come to church for the last half an hour of the primary presentation of sacrament meeting. We found out that he is married and that yesterday, when his friends invited him to drink, he said, “No!” We don´t know his wife yet, and haven´t been able to teach his daughter yet, but we feel really good about Julio.

A few kids are also coming to church, but they don´t yet have permission from their parents to be baptized. We´re doing what we can and we have hope.

Oh, and when would be a good time to call on Christmas?

And thank you for your letters and thoughts. I will keep searching for the view of the Lord to understand this life and the universe. I hope that your back/hip will be returned to normal soon. And also give my congragulations to Jayme. I remember my time with her in primary a bit still. I love you all and I hope you enjoy the Christmas season.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Friday, December 18, 2009

La semana y metas

7 Dec 2007

Dear Family,

This has been another fairly good week. Nothing really eventful happened, I think. We went to church for the first time with the rest of the ward. It is a really good ward. I just wish that they had a larger Elder´s Quorum. The group of High Priests is fairly large, which is good, but in the Elder´s Quorum, there was the President, the ward mission leader, and a recent convert, and us. I´m glad that the bishop and several of the members already have confidence in us as missionaries. We did divisions with the Elder´s Quorum president, Brother Severino, and he said that he really wants to do them as often as he can with us. It is also nice that a lot of the priesthood holders have their own work, so they can accompany us in almost any moment. So, the work is moving on well enough here.

Right now, our best investigator is a kid named Joel. He is 15 and actually lives in La Reja, part of Moreno 2. But, comes often over here to the house of his friend, Bryan, who is 18 and is preparing for his mission. The bishop said we should teach and baptize him here, so we will work on it. The only difficulty is communication with his family, but he says that his Mom will have no problem giving him permission. After praying to ask if these things are true, he said that he felt that he already knew that all of this was true. He enjoyed church on Sunday and accepted a baptismal date for December 26th. He´s a great kid and reminds me a lot of Joshua Augason or JD Noelck in his appearence and personality.

This sunday, there were three investigators that came that just need to get married, a huge problem here in Argentina because it is just so difficult, especially for the foreigners. To get married, you have to have all of the correct documents, go to the government office in Moreno at about 4 AM to hopefully get a number to be able to wait the rest of the day to try to get a day that you can get married maybe. And that´s if everything goes well. Many times, they say you are missing a specific document or that there aren´t any open dates. And it is 100 times harder if either you are from a different country, you are a widow or a widower, or you have to get divorced first. At least, we have the good example of Brother Severino here who was patient and active in the church 4 years before he could get married and baptized. So, if you wonder why we often baptize more kids than we do parents, that is one of the big reasons.

But, we have hope anyways. Especially with Julio Flores, who is living with Silvana, a member who is reactivating. He feels good about getting married and getting baptized because the first time he went to church, he felt a peace and saw that a lot of the marriage problems that they were having where smoothed out. So, he has interest. But Silvana is absolutely sure that he is getting baptized. That´s not a question for her. She talks often about the baptism of Julio. I hope that his own testimony will grow strong instead of just go along with the flow of what Silvana says to make her happy.

Oh, and mom wrote that she was surprised that there were missions doing 20 lessons a week. The following is our standard, or what we are working to acheive, but often is difficult. And I´ll also put what I think we usually do per week.

Baptisms – 3 per transfer (3 per transfer)
Investigators with baptismal date – 5 (2-3)
Investigatros in sacrament meeting – 5 (3)
Lessons with member present – 10 (5)
Other lessons – 25 (17)
References Contacted – 10 (1)
New Investigators – 15 (15)
Lessons with recent converts and inactive members – 8 (5)
Contacts – 140 (110)

So, we have about 20-25 lessons per week with investigators. So, we teach a good bit. But the average is going up. There are Elders that are teaching 40-50 lessons per week here. The work is moving forth with greater rapidity.

I know these things are true and that is why I´m here.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jardines tiene buenos miembros

30 Nov 2009

Dear Family,

I did have a lot of worries going into Jardines, but after a week of being there, I think I will have a good time there. This past week went to visit a lot of the members that we know of and they are all really good. The members in Jardines are much better than most of the members I have known on the mission. There are many ex-missionaries in this ward and they are very willing to help out. We met the new bishop on tuesday and when we went in to talk with him, he said that he felt that we were the missionaries that needed to be there.

You don´t have to worry that we are receiving anything to eat. We have lunch with a member every day and they all have been great. The owner of our pench (the Yankee version of the word “pensión” or apartment) is a member that lives next door. Our stove doesn´t work, so she has brought food over to us in the night several times. She is really nice.

One of our difficulties about this week was that it was Stake Conference in the center of Moreno. So, when we went, we still didn´t know who was from Jardines and people from Moreno 2 wanted to talk with me the entire time. We weren´t able to stay, but it was a joy to see Patricia preparing for her baptized, which occurred about an hour after the conference. It felt good to know that I left the area with something for Elder Runolfson and his mini-misionary (a 19 yr. old kid that hasn´t received his calling yet that came from a different Stake to work for a transfer). It was good to see them all again, but hard to say bye.

The conference with Elder Bednar was amazing. There was a stronger spirit there than I think I have ever felt before in a church meeting. He is a master at teaching by the Spirit and helping learn by faith. That was the theme of the meeting (I can´t say talk because it really wasn´t a talk). He taught by example more than anything. His goal was to teach us how to listen, observe, and discern to allow the Spirit to tell us what we need to say. He taught so and demonstrated it masterfully. It´s hard to describe.

What probably touched me the most were his teachings about putting off the natural man. One elder asked “What can we do to put off the natural man to be able to give 100% of ourselves to the work?” He taught about how the atonement of Christ not only cleans us but helps to perfect and strengthen us. The moments that we think we have missionary work down are the most dangerous moments of our mission. Only by relying on the Lord can we receive of his power. He gave a challenge to this missionary to get a new Book of Mormon and mark all of the parts where it says “by the power of the Lord” or something like that, and that he would more fully understand how to receive of the power of the Lord and would teach better his investigators to rely on the strength of the Lord. I´ve decided to take that challenge because I need so much more of the Lord´s help. I still have no clue what I´m doing.

He left us with the apostolic blessing of a greater measure of faith. He pleaded that we be true to that faith. And I hope to be. And I hope to be able to follow his example of teaching. I hope that my investigators can feel that strong spirit that he brought.

Oh, and you asked about my companion? Elder Cuberos is from Berranquilla, Colombia, the same city where Shakyra the singer is from (I don´t know how to spell her name). He has 6 months on the mission. (I realized that today I complete 2/3 of my mission. Faa. (The Argentine expression for Wow). I keept telling myself and everyone that I´m still young on the mission. I´m still young.)

I know that this is the Lord´s work and that He is with us when we do what we can to obey and follow Him. He is the worker of all miracles. By none other are the miracles of salvation manifest.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bautismo y Asignacion Especial

23 Nov 2009

Dear Family,

Sorry, but once again I am found with little time. I will print off you letters to read later and try to write as much as I can now.

The baptism of Nora went really well. We were able to overcome all of the difficulties that popped up on Saturday. They didn´t come to the piano class, so we felt that we should head out to see them, even though they live really far. When we got there, they were standing there wondering whether or not to come because of some problems. We helped them decide to come. When we got back, the font was only half full. We had left it running, but the motor to fill the tank where the water for the font comes from was unplugged. So, we drained the entire tank and there wasn´t any more water. We plugged in the motor, waited a bit more, and filled the rest of the font quickly with cold water. It wasn´t too bad. It was a good, happy baptism. Patricia and her Mom also came and loved it. So, Patricia will be baptized this week or the next.

So, why don´t I have time? I probably won´t have any time to think straight for the next month. I received a special and difficult assignment (but at least I´m not district leader any more). I am now in the area of Jardines. About two or three weeks ago, the Elders were taken out of that area. It was tragic. One of the Elders that got here with me (not from the MTC in Provo, but a latin starting here) had a problem with a girl (I don´t know how serious yet) and was sent home. His companion wasn´t sent home only because he was new. So, I and Elder Cuberos are sent there, after a White Wash, to save the area. At least I do know the bishop that was relieved this past Sunday (Bishop Barreto, the uncle of Hernán). But I don´t know the new bishop yet. We don´t have good maps to carry with us and the Area book is incomplete.

So, this transfer will teach me about true miracles and about how to rely on the arm of the Lord and not on my own strength. It will be difficult and will take a lot of organization, but I know it will be possible. My main goal is to gain the confidence of the members, to help them trust the missionaries again, and to do all the Lord asks of me.

I´m excited for my new companion, Elder Cuberos. This is his second area and only has 6 months on the mission, but he already proved himself to be a great missionary in his last area. He has the desire to work hard and be obedient. He knows English really well already (and he didn´t know anything before the mission) and it will be a joy to be with him. I see that our personalities match well already.

So, please pray that the Lord and His Spirit will be with us this transfer. Nothing but that will get us out of this mess. I love you all and wish the very best. And have a good Thanksgiving. I will keep in mind of all the reasons I´m thankful, but especially for having such a wonderful earthly and heavenly family.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 22, 2009

El Pozo y La liberacion

6 Nov 2009

Dear family,

It´s good to hear that the production is going well, even though there are a few kinks. I hope you have good attendence and that the spirit can have a powerful impact. I´d love to be there if I could to see it. Actually, I would love to be there to act in it. I kind of want to act in one of those special musical productions. The year I did it, it was fun, but still not of the same professional quality. I think I would put more effort into memorizing my part too. Here in the mission, many of the Elders say that I´ll sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (which makes me feel good, even though I doubt the possibility). It surprises me that most of the Elders know me for my voice more than for my piano abilities. I think I will want to take a few voice classes at BYU to learn how to sing solo parts a little better to be able to do such productions. I can sing parts well, but I don´t know how to craft my voice at all.

I feel kind of bad that I can´t claim that I worked the best the past several weeks. I´ve been getting way too lazy, especially with the doing the contacts I should. And I´m not just overreacting either. At times I have “animo” (it is the perfect spanish word to say that one has energy and vigor to work hard), but then it leaves after a few hours. A few times, I just gave up and it takes a long time and a lot of help once you´ve given yourself into that dank hole. It makes me feel even worse that I´ve been leading the rest of the district in the wrong direction too.

I started off today feeling that way too, but the zone activity really helped. I got there and just started pounding away on the piano. I absolutely love David Goldstein´s arrangements of the hymns. That might be one thing I might want for Christmas. I have Sacred Piano Preludes Volume one (so I´m sure that there is a volume two, and they are excellent to invite the spirit at a zone conference or at a baptism or anywhere) and “A Musical Companion,” the book I bought right before the mission. I love that book just to start pounding away with large chords and fast left hand movements to let off steam and be inspired. They are there in my skill range to be able to sight read or to practice up quickly to do as a solo.

While at zone conference, I was glad that Elder Rogers, one of the zone leaders, came to play ping pong with me and talk. He is a really special Elder with the ability to lift anyone up. He knows how to help make anyone feel good, make them feel worth something. And he works harder than nearly any other Elder too. He is a great example and helped me lift me a bit more out of that hole I had dug for myself. And it is always fun to play ping pong (it is a common sport in all of the churches here. I really think that our wards should adopt the same system for those that don´t want to play basketball as much). We also played a bit of Mafia, the common scout game. I enjoyed it today.

What has kept me up a bit is that we have hopes of having one or two baptisms this Saturday. First of all, we have Nora Mendez. We haven´t been able to teach her too much yet because we keep finding other people to teach in her house. So, she´s heard about the restoration and baptism a bunch of times. But, doesn´t know all of the commandments yet. So, I was thinking about setting the baptismal interview on friday. But, luckily, the thought came into my mind that I should have her read question 4 of the baptismal interview questions and she told us that she has a problem with it. That means that she will need to have an interview with the Mission President. He is booked this week because Elder Bednar is coming for meeting after meeting and to speak to all of us on Thursday. So, the President won´t have much time and if we had learned about it later on in the week, I don´t think it would have been possible. It isn´t certain with her, but I think it will be very possible.

Our other possibility is Patricia, the friend of the Mendez family. She had the parents permission for her to listen to us, but not to be baptized. It didn´t seem like the Mom was going to be very supportive. But, on Saturday, we found her in the house of the Mendez family. My companion said before we got there, “She´s in the firing hole. A house of pure love and testimony.” So, we started talking with her about what she thinks about Patricia coming to church. She was a little reluctant. So, we showed The Restoration, the 20 min. movie, and then started to explain that this will help Patricia a lot in her life, but she needs the support of her family, especially her mom to endure to the end. Nora then talked about how at first, she wasn´t going to let her kids go to church, that she felt the Mormons were trying to rob her kids and take them away, and all sorts of things. But, over time, she saw that we teach only good things, she wants them to go to church every Saturday and Sunday (yes, I continue teaching piano on Saturday, but it has been difficult because so many kids have started coming, wanting to learn, it is really hard to give them each a turn within the hour), and that she has made the decision to be baptized. We emphasized the fact that she needs to pray to know the answer. The next day when we went, we talked with the Mom and she said she prayed a lot the night before and she felt that this would be good for Patricia and the she would have her full support to follow this path. That was a great miracle and we´ll see if she´ll be able to be baptized with Nora on Saturday too.

I love you all and I have energy to help the stone cut without hands roll forth,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cosas y La Rocio

9 Nov 2009

Dear Family,

Thank you for your letters and especially thank you for the package. I got it about two weeks ago, I think. I love it. I´ve finished up the trail mix and I´m nearly done with the Gardetto´s, but I´m munching away on the other stuff. And thank you for the pictures.

And what do I want for Christmas? That´s a good question that I don´t really have an answer to. It seems like after so much time in Argentina, I have stopped craving things from the US. I don´t really care that much. As for clothes, I believe my pants and my shirt will last the rest of my mission (and I found my white baptismal pants about a month ago. They were with a member who had taken them home to wash). My main worry is my shoes. In one of the pairs that I bought at home I´ve worn through the sole and when I walk around in it, it lets in a lot of dust and dirt to the ball of my foot. But, I´m going to take it to a place to get it resoled. The ones I bought last christmas are holding up, but I´ll have to get them resoled before the end of my mission too. And I´m starting to use the shoes I kept for conferences and interviews to go working in. So, I might want to go out looking for some more new, high quality shoes. They´ve served me quite well. A lot of other missionaries have the leather come apart before the sole wears out. I might also want another package of good socks because with the soles like they are, the socks are wearing through much faster. But don´t worry, my feet feel fine because I have nice thick, strong calluses there on my feet to protect me. But as for other stuff, I don´t really know what to ask for. Oh, yeah, the charger for my electric razor stopped working this past week. I don´t like to shave by hand as much. You also asked about replacement blades and I think that would be good too if I can charge up my razor. And...I like letters and good ties. But the good ties tend to get given away quickly. And in the letters, I´m kind of curious about what has happened in the past year in scientific and space news. I have no clue what kind of discoveries have been made.

About housing? I´ve been kind of worried about that my whole mission because I don´t know at all. I had thought that I´d like to get to school on a bike or by moped, but I´m not sure if I want to rough it in the cold. The single apartments sound good but that could be a shock after living with a companion 24-7. I also was thinking about asking Elder Gilmore and Elder Sabey if they wanted to try to room together. I´ll ask them on the 22nd when we have our transfer meeting.

And I don´t think it would be the best idea to get the new computer now. I wish I would have time to get good suggestions from the Astronomy professors to know what to get. It is possible, but not certain, that any computer I get, I would wipe in order to put Ubuntu or another Linux operating system, which is much more compatible with scientific study and programming than Windows. But I´m not sure if I´d go to the trouble of doing that.

How´s the weather been here? It always reminds me of Louisville—very sporatic. This past few months it has been changing constantly. It has been a bummer that it´s rained many sundays, making attendence much lower and cuts our hopes for investigators. Other days it is really hot. Other days really nice. Other day cold. A bit of everything. But I´ve been pretty good at guessing what will happen and at what time in the day it will rain. I´ve learned to judge the weather.

This past week, all of our success and be rooted to Rocío Mendez, the recent convert. She is an excellent missionary, inviting and teaching everyone. She can get to the kids much easier than we can. For the first time, her Mom, Nora, came to church. We´ve been teaching her a little, but in order to be baptized she has to either marry or seperate with Victor, who is really lazy. But, this past week, if I have the story right, Victor hit one of the younger daughters and Nora said that he had to leave, called the Police, and he has a restraining order now. That is really sad, especially since they have two children together, but Nora will now be able to be baptized on the 22nd. It makes me glad that she´ll be able to have salvation and eternal life with her family, but it is sad that the family is without a family figure in the home.

Then, we are teaching Patricia, the neighbor of the Mendez family. She too came to church yesterday. And so did their two step sisters, Estefanía and Yenny (the y and ll sound like a sh sound in Castellano). They are 8 year old twins and are quite inteligent. But we are uncertain if these kids will get parental permission to be baptized. Then, we recieved Mariana as a referal. She is the best friend of Rocío. And we taught the whole family and they are really good. I love how all the children have dreams for a better future. One wants to be a lawyer, another and architect, and I believe they are graduating early from high school. The mom especially felt the spirit in the lesson.

So, that is what is happening in Moreno 2. I hope to be able to tell you great things the next week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 8, 2009

La Misionera

2 Nov 2009

Dear family,

I´m sorry that last week I wasn´t able to send a good letter. I hope that all goes well with this letter, but it might take a while to write because the s and the e keys don´t work very well.

To answer the question about the experience of my companion, this is what happened. After personal study, we began our companionship study with a hymn and a prayer. After I prayed, Elder Runolfson stayed on his knees. He was crying. So, I let him stay there for a bit longer. He said, “Elder Ranquist. I just want to thank you for your testimony. I´ve been looking for that change of heart that is spoken of in Mosiah.” He felt the love of Christ. During that companionship study, I pulled out “The small plates of Drake Ranquist” (my spiritual journal) and read to him the process of gaining my testimony. It was probably my best companionship study that I have had. We then fasted that day to help retain that testimony.

This past week was a really hot and then a really rainy week. On friday, I had divisions with the zone leaders and they showed me how they are doing 40 lessons per week and finding so many new investigators. It was a really good day. But with the heavy rain on Sunday, none of our investigators wanted or could come. The was an attendence of 25 members at church. Sometimes we missionaries think that the Lord show his faithful by sending rain. And it gave me joy to see Gastón, Rocío, and Romina come from far away through all of the mud. That touched a lot of the members in attendence. It also gave me joy to hear the testimony of Lourdes. Those four are so humble and pure of heart.

Talking about them, Rocío has become quite the missionary. Two weeks ago, they went to a Kiosco on sunday morning and there was a 12 year old girl there named Patricia with her 9 year old brother Richard. Rocío invited them to go with them. They asked, “Where?” “To church.” “Ok, I´ll ask my Mom.” And they came, even before knowing Rocío´s name. So, we are now teaching that family. There was another time that we went to their house and found that their step-sisters were there and taught them. They also have handed out a few copies of the first pamphlet and inviting everyone. Rocío can´t wait until she can go on a mission in 5 years.

I hope that the rest of your week goes well. I would love to see and be apart of the play. I´ll be praying for you all.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Disculpen que esta cortala carta

26 Oct 2009

Dear family,

Sorry, I can´t write much because I´ve already used up my hour and I lost my entire message. But this is an outline of what my letter was about.

I sent the photos of the baptism of Rocío, Gastón, and Romina. And a photo of the miracle that ¡Tengo uñas! ¡I have fingernails! I stopped eating my fingernails and cracking my knuckles as much.

We aren´t having too much success with the kids that came to church because their mothers are avoiding us and don´t give their permission for them to be baptized.

But Rocío, Gastón, and Romina found Patricia to bring to church last week and we taught her whole family.

My companion, E´Runolfson, received a greater testimony.

And my love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Que le cumple feliz!

19 Oct 2009

Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Jonathan! I can´t relieve that tomorrow you´ll be 16 already. While I was preparing Rocío, Gastón, and Romina for their baptisms, Rocío said that she was born in 1993. That made me think, “My brother already is nearly as old as she is!?!” I feel like I´ve missed out a lot in your life the past two years. I feel like I remember you as a 14 yr old. But, you´ll already start to drive and to date. From what I´ve heard, you are much more excited to do those two things than I was when I turned 16. You are already a fairly responsible young man, so I doubt you´ll have problems living up to the new responsibilities that you´ll be taking upon yourself. I wish you luck and I hope you enjoy your teenage years while you have them. I´m realizing now that I´m no longer a kid anymore. I´ll miss those days as I have to face the world. I love you and have a lot of respect for who you´ve become. Continue forth on good paths, avoid temptation, and you´ll become the grand man that God is planning for you to become.

Dad, to let you know, I took out 200 pesos out of the bank. This area is a bit more expensive than the last areas and we don´t receive as much help from the members for our food, so I have to buy much more. On tuesday, we passed by the family with whom we have lunch on wednesdays and she said that she was doing a little job and we needed to call the next day to see if she got paid in order to cook for us. They are the most faithful family in the ward, so I knew they were having serious financial difficulties. If they had, they would give, even if it wasn´t enough left over for themselves. So, we decided to have her teach us how to make a good sauce, we bought lunch for ourselves and the family and learned to cook it together. It was a good experience, but our budget is a bit short. (But don´t worry mom, we´re eating well).

This past week has been a fairly good week. E´Runolfson is a good elder and knows how to teach well. I´m very grateful to have him as a companion. I think we´ll work well together. Right now, I feel like our only success is coming out of children. I counted on Sunday and there were 75 members there, 40 of which are under the age of 18. This is a very young ward with a large group of youth, who are helping with the missionary program. On Sunday we had two neighbors of one member come, two neighbors of Alvaro, and two neighbors of Rocío, Gastón, and Romina. It´s great that all the kids want to come, but we want to help the whole family. We want to help the parents come. But the majority of the time, they aren´t married and don´t have much interest at all in religion. It worries me a bit because the bishop says that this ward is notorious for baptizing kids without their parents and without much of their support, the kids slowly go inactive. But, I can´t deny a kid, who at least has the permission of his parents, his salvation on account of his parents who are dull to the Spirit because of sin. So, we will continue to teach them and do our best to include their parents in the conversion process.

I know that this work is true and that there are thousands who are ready to hear and accept the message that Christ wishes to give us. I know that faithful prayer, scripture study, and church attendence gives us that ability to overcome the problems that are in this torrential world and find the peace and tranquility that so many look for. I know that it is only through and in our Lord Jesus Christ that such blessings come from. And that through our obedience to Him, we will be able to reunite with our loving and merciful Father. I know this to be true and I share it with my love to you.

-Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 18, 2009


So for all of those who don't know, Jonathan (yes, the baby of the Ranquist family!) Turns 16 on tuesday!!!! He says he's mainly excited for the cars, but I know that driving girls in cars must be in the back of his mind somewhere ;)

16 Great Things About Jonathan:

16. Amazing Indoor Tent Builder: I'm not sure if we ever took pictures, but Jonathan and I could make some pretty rockin tents with sticks and sheets that spanned our whole basement. good times

15. A dancer!!!: Shhhh!!!! No one's allowed to know just how graceful he is and how good of a dancer he could be if only he tried...

14. Fun to cook with: especially when I'm making cookies, while on the phone and the fight!

13. Good Rhymer: he can spend hours coming up with words to rhyme with the ones at the end of my sentence. I don't quite remember who won that one

12. History Buff!!!: History Channel is one of his favorite tv stations. He knows everything!

11. Has and keeps goals: He has always wanted to be a pilot. I know he will achieve this goal someday!

10. Trusting: He kind of has to be, to get in the car with me driving at 5:45 in the morning...

9. Good listener: I talk to much, whoops.

8. Smart: This kid knows so many random facts, it's awesome!

7. Smile: of course I couldn't pass this one up! He was called "smiley-boy" by Grandpa Ranquist, but lately his family isn't the only one to notice his georgous smile :D

6. An exampe: I don't recall him complaining. His lazy older sister would be sitting on her bed and ask him to run all the way down to the basement to get her paper that printed out, and he would!

5. Cheerful: He always laughs, even when being beaten up!

4. Loving: He has soo much love - for the family, life, the dog, everything

3. Athletic: He's going on a 50 mile bike ride this week! Crazy!

2. Close to the Lord: whenever someone in our house has lost something, we go to Jonathan. As soon as he says a prayer, it is found. The Lord listens to him

1. A GREAT BROTHER!!! when asked what he wants for his bday, he says things like "I don't really want anything really. I guess just me knowin that you know I miss you."

I Miss you too!!! Have a Great Birthday!!!!!

bautismos y cambios

12 Oct 2009

Dear Family,

Today, I find myself next to Elder Runolfson here in Moreno 2. Elder Callejas went to one of my favorite areas, Rafael Castillo 1. He will be able to help and protect the converts in that great ward. Elder Runolfson is from Northern California and has been on his mission for 17 months. I continue being district leader, so that makes me senior companion still (even though I´d love to return to the responsibilities of being Junior Companion). I´ve known him since the beginning of my mission because he was in my district my second and third transfer, which allowed us to do a few divisions together. I think we´ll have a good time together and I hope that we´ll be able to work as hard as I did with E´Callejas. I don´t feel we have very many good investigators (none came to church on sunday) right now, so it is possible that we´re in for a rocky road, but through pray, faith, and work, the Lord will provide. I have a firm testimony of that.

This past week, we had the great opportunity to be apart of the baptisms of Rocío, Romina, and Gastón Mendez. Elder Callejas baptized Rocío and Romina, while I baptized Gastón. I really wish that Alvaro and Gabriel could have done them, but they aren´t yet Priests. They helped us out a lot in supporting Gastón.

It gives me great joy to know that Nic was able to enter the waters of baptism and make covenants with our Lord. I really wish that I could have been there. And I hope to always be there to help him on this difficult road that gives so much peace and joy. I will pray his parents will accept his decision. I suggest to Nic that he too prays and possibly fasts to know that words that the Lord would have him use and the to do so with the faith courage that Limoni had while travelling with Ammon when they encountered his father. A good read would be Alma 20 and Alma 22 about how at first the father of Lamoni rejected his decision to be baptized, but then accepts. That his father becomes and instrument in allowing the entire kingdom receive the gospel. With this faith, prayer, study, and courage, God will help touch their hearts.

We have a new form of doing the transfers, so we are doing this really late and I don´t have time to write any more. May the Lord be with you all and his peace and comfort cover you. Here on the mission, I try to keep in mind, “Never give up, never surrender!”

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Me encanto la conferencia

5 Oct 2009

Dear Family,

We got back from our zone activity fairly late, so I don´t really have much time at all to write. I´m sorry. But as you all did, I absolutely loved the conference. It seems to get better every time. And it seems to go by faster every time. I felt the Spirit quite strongly through the duration of the conference.

I absolutely loved all of the talks about the importante of love. It is an atribute that I am trying so hard to improve. It has always been my weak spot. I can be diligent and do good things for good reasons, but I have a hard time doing such things out of love. I want to feel it more. I do love God and his children, but I want to feel it deeper down in my heart. I believe I am more sensible now, things touch my heart, but not quite as I think it should. I think it will be a trait I will be working on throughout my life. And I hope that when people see me, as President Uchtdorf stated, they will say “This is a man who loves God and loves his neighbor, why? And how can I have the happiness I see in him?” I know that I am called to be a constant example to help all that meet me to have more interest in the restored gospel. But, I feel I have a long way yet.

Now, I ask you to pray that I always have the energy that I need. The past two days, we went running around trying to invite and bring all of our investigators to General Conference. It wore me out a bit. But somehow God will pull energy out of nowhere to help me continue with His work.

Next week I´ll have a fairly big change. I´ll lose my companion E´Callejas and receive a new companion. We´ll also see this week if we acheived our goal of 200 baptisms. We have 130 for the transfer and 99 planned for this weekend (the last week of a transfer always sees the most baptisms). We hope to help with the baptism of Rocío, Gastón, and Romina Mendez.

I will continue praying for you all because I do love you Mom, Dad, Jessica, and Jonathan.

With that love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 27, 2009

La ultima visita al templo

22 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

Thank you very much for your letters. I am very grateful that I receive them on a weekly basis. E´Callejas often complains that his family isn´t very constant and he never knows if he will have an e-mail in his inbox or not. So, I´m very grateful for your consistancy and thorougness (I can´t spell in english anymore. Spanish makes much more sense.).

This saturday, we had the baptism of Hernán. His uncle, the bishop of Jardines and who helped us so much convince his mom that this would be a good experience for him, came to do the baptism. He is an excellent man. I wish I had photos, but I forgot to bring my adaptor to transfer it to the computer. It went really well and he was really happy. I was also able to play one of the Goldstein arrangements of “The Army of Helaman” on the piano during the baptismal service. He participates in my piano classes, so I told him if he practices, he´ll be able to play that song for one of his converts when he goes on his mission in a decade. I find baptismal services to be one of the best reunions that we have in the church.

Today was bitter sweet because it was the last trip to the temple that I´ll have in almost a year. I will have to wait, like so many others in the world, to be able to experience such peace again. The president told us to go with a question or a doubt that we have to be answered. That we should go and think about our mission and what we want with the rest of our missions. I couldn´t think of a question I wanted answered, so I decided to go with the spirit of gratitude-to think about all of the miracles I have seen thus far in my mission and give thanks for them. The greatest desire I have for the rest of my mission is to continue with the joy that I have received at the hands of our Savior on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I know that I have been the witness of a lot of success and miracles thus far in my mission, and as you reminded me in your letter Dad, I constantly remind myself that (just as Ammon did while rejoicing in the success of his mission) every person that accepts us, every person that comes to church, and every baptism is not the result of my own efforts, for I am nothing. They are the result of the miraculous power of God and His Spirit.

Dad, you also wrote about another part that I need to improve. I really need to find time to write more in my journal. I´m glad you are keeping the letters that I send (they´re on the blog) because this is a little of the time that I have to write in my journal. At the beginning of my mission, I was really good at writing every day, but as I take on more and more responsibilities, I lose more and more time. I´m trying to make sure that I write at least every time that someone is baptized to recount their story of conversion. But it is really difficult when we get back between 9-9:30, plan for 30 min., make phone calls to verify our appointments, call to have daily contact with the investigators with a baptismal date, talk with Moreno 1 and General Rodriguez about their days, and try to eat my three fruits (which often I don´t even have time for that now), it is hard to squeeze in time to write in my journal. Time has never been my ally. Every day I wish that I could have three timelines to do everything I want and should do. But, I´ll put more effort to find time to write in my journal for you all and my posterity. I know it will be useful.

I think I´m glad as well Mom that you decided to change your mind about the couches. I was trying to image leather couches in the family room and they just don´t fit in my mind. I know, it is probably that I hate such changes, but I think you made a good decision going for something a little closer to our preferred style. But, I think when I get back it will be just as bad as when Dad got home from his mission to live in a different house. I won´t recognize anything.

Oh, before I forget, which card did you want me to use again? The debit or the credit card? And if it is the credit card, can you send the pin number? I don´t remember it at all.

I hope that your recovery goes well and that you won´t have to be too patient Dad. I love you all and love hearing from you.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bautismos Actuales y futuros

14 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

This past week hasn´t been as spectacular as the past few weeks, but it was a fairly good week anyways. The highlight of the week was the two baptisms of Valentina Rodriguez and Lourdes Chaparro. It went really well without too many problems. I´m sending the pictures, so I hope you like them.

As I told you last week, Valentina came out of nowhere, we interviewed her, and she was ready within those three hours. We passed by once during the week and everything went well. She is a very special girl who really wants to follow the commandments of God. Her step-father (who also happens to have the last name Rodriguez), our ward mission leader, baptized her.

We didn´t feel like we had to do too much for Lourdes either. She read the pamphlet about the restoration and 3 Ne 11 the first night we talked with her. Since that day she couldn´t wait to be baptized. She was a huge help and support for Ramona. The only difficulty was that she worked in the capital all week long and only came home for the weekends. But, she is smart enough to handle a lot of information at once to get through all of the lessons to prepare her. We called her two to three times a week to answer questions, but couldn´t do too much more. She asked me to baptize her and it was a pleasure.

Now, we are preparing for the baptism of Hernán this Saturday. We were doing our contacts one day and interrupted the conversation of two women. Patricia came and asked if someone had given us her address to pass by. We told her no and asked if she is a member, which she is. She had moved there 5 months ago, but never decided to go to church, even though it was fairly close and recognizable. We also found her 9 yr-old son and decided to prepare him for baptism. At first they kept saying, “Not too soon.” But, with the help of her brother, the bishop of the Jardines ward (who has a voice that really reminds me of Dr. Ray), she realized that this would be the best for Hernán. I think she wanted him to be a perfect child before being baptized, which is impossible, especially because I think he has a kind of ADHD. He´s come the last four sundays and will be baptized on Saturday by his uncle.

We´re also planning the baptism of Gastón, Rocío, and Romina. We found Rocío and her mom one day doing our contacts and they told us where they lived and we set an appointment. They live really, really far away in our area and we were lucky to find their house without good directions. Gastón (14) and Romina (12) came to church last week. Rocío (16) came with them this week. We passed by twice this past week and they are very accepting and Gastón, Rocío, and Romina accepted a baptismal date for the 3rd of October. We have general conference that day, so I don´t know when we´ll really do it. Their mom and stepfather, who are not married, were going to come to church on Sunday, but backed out for fear of leaving the house alone and being robbed while they were away. We´ll see what we can do for them next week. This family is really humble (their house is an old Evangelical church that the pastor gave to them) and has passed through a ton of trials, but are extremely innocent. Their eyes look pure. So we have hope for them.

This past week was a really good week for this district. For the first time in my mission, the entire zone (both districts) completed their 140 contacts for the week. I´ve never heard of a zone doing that. With a little bit of encouraging and energy, we were all able to do it together. I know that such diligence will bring greater miracles to our zone. It also makes my job as district leader a bit easier.

I hope that your surgeory goes well Dad. I´ll be praying.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Milagritos que nos sostienen

7 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

I´m glad to hear that nearly everything is going well. I´ll continue praying for Dad and his back. I´ll start off by answering the questions the Mom and Dad sent because I didn´t have enough time to do so last week. First of all, no, I never received the package from grandma for my birthday. I have no clue what happened to it. But, Grandma, thank you very much. I´m sure I would have loved it. And thank you for the one you sent for Christmas. And the HLJ rings made a good gift for the younger converts in Castillo. I gave them to the twins, Karen and Florencia, and also to Vania and Veronica. I don´t remember to who else. I know they wore them for the first few days, but I don´t know if they took them off when they realized they turn the finger green. (I don´t know if the ones you sent do so, but I know the CTR rings do and I think one of the children here in Moreno said the HLJ rings do too).

This past week, I was thinking about asking if you were going to send another package soon. The main thing that I want is a package of mechanical pencils. The ones that I buy here break (for internal reasons, not because I maltreat them) within a week. I´m still using one that I brought from the US that still works, but I don´t count on it lasting the rest of my mission. I prefer to use pencil when I plan instead of pen for obvious reasons. The other thing I wanted to ask for was more Post-It notes. Those have been excellent to mark chapters in the book of mormon that I want the person to read or to leave behind a note or to have something to write on. They also fit really well inside of my scripture bag. So it would be nice if you sent a few more pads of normal sized Post-it notes.

With regards to food. I don´t really care that much. I´m used to the food here now. But, what could be nice would be some more snickers and nuts. The nuts in a trail mix or whatever because those are a good, healthy, fast snack that puts something in the stomach. Other than that, I don´t need anything else.

And I think I´m still good on clothes. I did lose one of my grey pants. How I am not sure. It was probably left behind during a transfer or got mixed in the clothes of another missionary. But, I´m fine using only 3 pairs of pants. They are still all in good condition. All of my shirts are still good. Well, one of the long sleeve shirts has bad rust stains on it because I accidently left a few nails in the shirt pocket, but I always wear a sweater to cover it up anyways. My only problem is that I think I´m going to need to take out a bit more money from the bank to buy white pants when we go to the temple. In the baptism of Nora, E´Callejas and I both lent our baptismal pants to David to see which one would fit better. After the baptism, the pants of E´Callejas came back wet, but mine never showed up. And they haven´t shown up yet either. So, I think I´ll have to go buy new ones on the 22nd and use E´Cumrine´s on Saturday.

Ok, now to talk about my week. It was really quite a good week, full of its own little experiences and miracles. The first is that we worked hard and with all of our force and God blessed us for our efforts. The main miracle came to pass yesterday. After church, we had a meeting with our ward missionary leader (it is a bit difficult to work with him because many times he doesn´t do what we ask him to do, but I think he is improving) and he surprised us by telling us that he wants us baptize his step-daughter next sunday. I had no idea that he has a 9 year old step daughter that lives with him and who went to church the past two sundays. We told him, “Great, we´ll go talk with her right now!”
We began talking with Valentina, and found that she is completely ready to be baptized. Her family had taught her well. She wasn´t able to go to church and be baptized before because her real father often comes to take her home for the weekend, but she says that she has been praying that he doesn´t come because he insults her and she wants to go to church. It is really sad, but what is even sadder is that it isn´t uncommon. The zone leaders came for the baptismal interview of Lourdes (the niece of Ramona who is really excited for her baptism) and we had them interview Valentina too. So, within 3 hours of getting to know her, she had her interview and will be baptized with Lourdes on Saturday. It was really nice to have that little gift from our Heavenly Father.
This sunday we had a bunch of people in church who aren´t members. Several of them need to get married first, but it sounds like they are actually going to start working on the papers this week. There were also two children of a family that we found this week that are really humble and inocent. We were walking and doing our contacts and we found a woman and her daughter selling movies. We set an appointment with them and felt that they could be really good investigators. On saturday, we went to their house, even though they live really, really far away. They live in the middle of a large campo (field...I can´t remember the best word) in a small house given to them by a pastor of another church a few years ago. There are a lot of children in this family and we showed the the video “The Restoration.” They really liked it and the Mom told us that she had prayed to know which is the true church a few weeks ago and that she had a dream that she didn´t quite understand, but showed her that she shouldn´t go to an Evangelical church. We felt a really good spirit with them and we have a lot of hope. She couldn´t come yesterday, but two of her children did and really liked it. We´ll be going back on Wednesday to see how they are doing.

Thank you for all your help and prayers. I´m loving it here right now, especially with E´Callejas and the effort that he puts forth. He´s a true example for me, just like E´González was. They really help me to gain the potential that I have. Until next week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exito Sobre Fiasco

1 Sep 2009

Dear family,

I hope I have time to explain this hectic yet rewarding week. I´ll start off with the change that I´ve had. Yesterday, we had our Transfer Meeting and I have now been assigned as District Leader. Dad, I believe I remember you telling me that you were once a Travelling Elder, going around the mission training all of the District Leaders. Do you have any suggestions? Since the beginning of my mission, I knew that I would be called to be such a Leader and I was quite scared. But, over this past transfer (month and a half) I was able to feel more comfortable with the idea. I really hope this will help me develope the love and service for others that I so desire to improve. In this district, there is E´Callejas, E´Cumrine, E´Vita (came in to replace E´Thomas and is from Peru), E´Gonzalez (from Paraguay. We lived in the same pench in Castillo and we are already good friends), and E´Since (also from Peru). I´ll try to take a photo one day and I hope to be able to have the inspiration to know how to inpire them and give them “animo” (a combination of energy and a positive attitude).

Oh, another change that I need to inform you. Our Preparation day has been changed to Monday, so I´ll be writing you every Monday from now on, with the exception the week of the 21st, I´ll write Tuesday the 22nd. This is due to a very sad news. The temple is closing for renovations that will take 1-2 years. The 22nd, I´ll go to the temple the last time during my mission. This makes me especially sad because I won´t be able to see the sealing of Lionel and Viviana Lizondo. Without such visits, we can have our P-days on Monday.

This Sunday we had the baptism of De los Ángeles Ramona Gutierrez and Alvaro Lopez. It was one of the most difficult baptisms that I´ve seen, but we were able to overcome every difficulty that came in our way. Ramona was completely ready and had her interview last sunday. Went to go work in the capital for the week, but returned early, telling us that the lady she was taking care of wouldn´t let her read The Book of Mormon at all. She began having doubts about being baptized because of problems with her family. Her husband was saying that after she is baptized, she will be completely different. I believe he thinks that she will begin “living” in the church, which isn´t the case. She had the fear of missing even one sunday every once in a while to go with her husband to Luján to visit. But, we were able to help her see that missing one sunday is very small compared to not being baptized with regards to disobedience to God. On Saturday, her brother came and was a bit drunk. While we were there, he started saying that we need to give her more time, a month or two, because she is confused and needs time to think. We explained that she was ready and that she shouldn´t wait. It was a bit difficult, but we were able to help Ramona feel better while her drunk brother was present. Eventually he left and Lurdes, her niece, came and she said “You´re having doubts? I´m not going to let anything get in the way of my baptism. I can´t wait.” She really helped. (By the way, Lurdes will be baptized the 12th).

Alvaro was a bit of a surprise. He is 14 years old and has been receiving the missionaries since January. He wasn´t progressing, so we stopped going by his house as often. His Mom realized what was happening and that we were helping Alvaro a lot be better. She told us that we can´t stop passing by, even if he doesn´t get baptized. With more of her support, Alvaro came to church last Sunday. In class, they started talking about the duties of the priesthood and told him that he could be a Teacher, but has to be baptized first. This got him so excited that he came to us to ask us when he could be baptized. We told him on the 12th.

We had an interview the President Benton this past Monday and he was asking if there were any more possibilities. We had the goal to have 200 baptisms in one transfer and was asking if it were possible to have a few more to acheive it. We told him about Alvaro and said it would be alright to do it this Sunday if we prayed about it and verified that he had a true change. When we went to Alvaro on Monday, he showed us that he really had changed and was excited. So we decided to do it Sunday.

But, things got more difficult. Saturday night, at 10:20 PM, we received a message saying that the water pump in the church had broken and that we wouldn´t have water to fill the baptismal font. We went crazy. We had E´Thomas and E´Cumrine fill the baptismal font in Moreno 1 and somehow we would bring everyone there to do the baptism. We brought a ton of coins to church the next day just in case. During the first class, we talked with the bishop and he called for Hma. Diaz who has some friends who have busses. During the first hour she went on her bicycle to go find them and after church we were able to take everyone to Moreno 1 to have a successful baptism. It was really stressful, but we were able to do it with the help of the ward. It was miraculous.

And by the way, we didn´t quite reach 200, but we had 192. Breaking records everywhere. It was an amazing transfer.

I send my love and prayers.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bautismo de Nora

25 Aug 2009

Dear Family,

I am pleased to anounce that Nora Goldenstein was baptized this Sunday. But, I´m sorry that I´m not yet able to send a photo. We went to the zoo for a zone activity and I didn´t bring the adaptor to transfer the memory card to the computer. Her story is begins when she married David Goldenstein, a partially active member of Moreno 1. They went on their honeymoon and then moved into a house here in Moreno 2. The two of them decided to visit church about two months ago and met Elder Wall and Elder Callejas, but they weren´t sure if Nora was a member or not. When they were walking around one day, Nora and David were riding around on a motorcycle (David is a policeman that rides around on motorcylces all day), stopped and asked when the missionaries were going to come by. So, that is how it all started.

They began coming to church nearly every week and Nora began growing in interest. She is a school teacher, so she read every homework assignment we gave her (the pamphlets and chapters in the Book of Mormon). As I have before told, her major difficulty (and it is still a major difficulty) is praying before others.

Her baptism went fairly well, but it was really stressful. Here in Moreno 2, the water heater is located too far away from the baptismal font. There is hot water in the kitchen, but as the water moves through the frigid underground pipes to the baptismal font, it comes out a bit cold. We spent a fair amount of time Saturday trying to figure out a way to fix it. In the end, Hermana Días told us that she could bring a 50L pot to heat water in and throw in with the rest of the water. So, we spent all of the church meeting heating up the water in the pot twice. In the end, we were able to get the water to be a bearable temperature.

The baptismal service occured right after sacrament meeting. We had to change all of our plans because every person we assigned to give a talk or a welcoming didn´t attend. David baptized Nora and it was a very special event to witness. What warmed my heart even more was when we sang “Haz tú lo justo” (“Do What is Right”) for her and she began to cry. She indicated that that is one of her favorite hymns, of the few she knows.

Before church, I was feeling a bit down because nearly all of our plans and appointments on friday and saturday fell through and when I called on Sunday morning for a few people to come, they said they didn´t want us to come accompany us because they didn´t want to go to the first classes. Saying that usually means that they aren´t going to come. But, many people got to church on their own.

Ramona and Lurdes came. Lurdes during the week sent us a message (she works in the capital from monday to saturday, so we can´t teach her during the week) asking why she couldn´t be baptized sooner. We let her know that it is a requirement in the mission to attend church 3 times to show that they will continue. Church wasn´t quite all she was expecting. She felt a bit like I felt the first time I went to the temple, a little uncomfortable and a little doubtful. One of the problems is that this ward isn´t the most open and warm to newcomers. After church, she was with her aunt Ramona, who will be baptized this Saturday, and wondering whether or not to stay for the baptism. She was praying and found a pieces of paper on the floor. It said “Jesucristo me ama” (“Jesus Christ loves me”). She decided that she would stay. She absolutely loved the baptism and decided that is what she wants and believes that it is all true. After the baptism, she asked me if I would be the one to baptize her, which made me feel honored.

This Sunday, Alvaro, also came. He is a fourteen year old kid that was about to be baptized 2-3 months ago, but his non-member parents talked him out of it, saying that being baptized isn´t a game and that they would be more strict with him afterwards. During my time here in Moreno, he wasn´t coming to church on Sunday (but would come Saturday to play soccer with the other youth). We stopped passing by as often and his Mom realized how good this Gospel is for him and told us not to stop passing by because we were helping him. To our surprise, he came to church again this Sunday. And to our greater surprise, he asked us when he could be baptized. In priesthood class, they were talking about the responsibilities of the priesthood and about the Duty to God award. Alvaro realized that he can´t really do anything in the church without first being baptized and became really excited. We had interviews with President Benton yesterday and he gave his permission to baptize him this Saturday (on part so that we can reach the goal of 200 baptisms in this transfer, the which ends this Sunday). We feel that he has had a true change of heart and is ready again to be baptized. His Mom is also now showing interest. The only problem is that Alvaro´s father doesn´t want her to go too much.

And we had one more person come to church on their own. While doing our contacts, we found a woman talking with another. We “interrupted” and she asked if someone had given us her direction. She wanted to know how we found her. We found out that she is the inactive sister of the Bishop in Jardines, another ward in the stake of Moreno. She moved here 5 months ago and what is even better, she has a 9 year old son. So, we have begun to teach Hernan. She is the one I called Sunday morning. But, she arrived for Sacrament meeting and then stayed for the baptism and liked it. We are planning on the 12th of September for him as well, but Patricia, his Mom thinks that is too soon.

Well, it is my time to go. I hope that all goes well with you all. I love your letters. And I hope that you enjoy the start of School Jessica and Jonathan. And before I go, I can´t forget. Happy Birthday Dad! Thanks for being such a good example in my life.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm in Utah!

Yup, I'm finally in Utah! I can't believe school is here after all of that waiting! I'm so excited!


18 Aug 2009

Dear Family,

This was yet another great week in the service of the Lord. We continued to work hard, even when we were tired (I´m extremely grateful for my companion who can take a little bit of control when my mind ceases to work) and saw a ton of fruits. I don´t understand how it was possible, but person after person would accept us. We gave so many “charlas cortas” (short discussions about the restoration). I told you last week how we started of finding 10 people on monday, which is our weekly goal. Throughout the week, we found 17 more people to teach. We now have people to teach in nearly every part of the area in which we work.

I told you that we taught a family last week in the which the father, Cristian, listened to the missionaries before. We taught them again on Saturday and they accepted to come to church with us on Sunday. Sunday morning, we could feel that a strong storm was building up. While walking to their house, there was strong wind, it began to sprinkle a bit, and we heard thunder and say a little lightning. We were praying the entire time that the Lord wait to lash out his fury until the family could get safely inside and not be scared to leave their house. When we arrived, they were nearly ready. We walked with them to church and the moment in which they entered, it began to pour. During the first class, it was nearly impossible to listen to what was being said because the rain hitting the roof made so much noise. And even harder when it began to hail. But, all who got to church on time were dry. We were very thankful.

We had another miracle Sunday that carried into yesterday (and we hope will carry on forever). We went to teach Ramona, who will be baptized on the 29th and makes me really happy everytime I see her because of how excited she is. She shares her testimony with us nearly everytime we go to teach her. When we arrived, we asked if she wanted to invite her neice to listen to us, who was in the house at the time. She said yes, but didn´t come out until we finished our lesson about the plan of salvation. We taught her neice, Lurdes, the first lesson as normal, but when she said that she would read and pray, I felt that she really meant it. She works in the capital the entire week and is only home on the weekends, so I decided to teach about The Book of Mormon as well. I forgot that yesterday was a holiday here, but my companion didn´t. He set the return appointment for the next day.

When we went, we saw that she truely is one of the elect of the Lord. She had read the folleto and 3 Ne 11. She also prayed last night and received a strong spiritual witness. With the help of Valeria (a member of the same age, 22 years), we learned that when she prayed, she felt like she was going to cry, yet was happy. The spirit was really strong during this lesson as Ramona as well spoke of how this gospel is helping her. With such an experience, we knew she deserved a baptismal date for as soon as possible, namely the 12th of September. If only missionary work could always be like that.

Before my mission, I thought that was how missionary work would be. Teach and the person would receive an answer immediately and they would come and join the church. But now I realize that such experiences are really rare. Usually, missionary work takes a lot of work, effort, faith, and love.

Thank you for all of love and prayers. I loved your talk Mom. It was really well written. And I pray and hope for the best for you all.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Semana de Milagros (week of miracles!!!)

Well, to update you a little on the Ranquist's lives...
First, I'm now 18! My birthday was the 13th. Truthfully, I don't feel any different. I had to work (at Sonic) on my birthday, but it was fun, because a lot of people came and visited me. I guess I'm officially an adult now! sorta...

Jonathan started his sophomore year of high school also on the 13th. I haven't gotten much out of him yet, but he seems to be enjoying himself so far. Not too big of a homework load yet.

My dad turns....coughcough51coughcough....this week. So happy birthday to him! He already bought his present - a blueray dvd. He's also excited about a new tv we got for the family room. I don't know what type it is, to me it's a big, thin, nice, expensive looking tv. He's excited.

Now the exciting part of my life. College! I leave for BYU on saturday. I can't wait! I've met all of my roommates on facebook and they all seem really nice and fun (because facebook tells all, of course. haha) Next time I update I'll be in Utah!

All right now here to Drake's letter. It's a good one this week!

11 Aug 2009

Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Jessica! I agree with Mom and Dad, it is really difficult imagining you being 18 and about to leave for college. I really hope you like BYU (I don´t really have any doubts about it). Write me about your classes, friends, and experiences. In a year, I´ll be there in BYU along with you. And don´t fall for the first return missionary that crosses your path. Just enjoy yourself for a time.

It seems like I´m mission out on everything there in Louisville with regards to a wacky climate. I missed out on the power outages, the blizzards, the good weather, and the floods. What will come to pass this following year that I´ll miss out on? The weather here has been pretty good. Sorry dad, I have no idea what the temperature is here during the day. Probably in the 50´s, maybe.

This week was an extremely good week here in Moreno. I think I told you that this past week was the crunch week of the transfer to help acheive 200 converts in this transfer. E´Callejas and I put in all of our effort to try to contact every person we saw. There was an apostolic promise that if each of us contacts 10 people a day, we will double the baptisms. Or in other words, 20 as a companionship and 140 per week. This is really difficult to acheive. But, this week we tried inviting everyone. As a result, we found 18 new investigators (a new record for me) and found people to come to church.

Last tuesday, as we were walking in the dark, we heard someone close their gate and lock it. We had passed by, but my companion decided to turn around and contact the man who was there. He told us no, that his Señora was a little sick and that we should come back another day (which everyone says). We insisted a little, saying that our message was short and that we could share it with him there on the patio. Surprisingly, he let us in and what surprised me even more was that he invited his wife to come out to listen to us. We learned that she had already listened to the missionaries before, has a Book of Mormon, but never went to church. At the end of the lesson, we offered a healing blessing (“bendición de salud.” Is it healing blessing or health blessing or what do we say in english? I was talking with our zone leader today and he said that one of the hardest things he had to do was give a blessing in english because he´s never done it before. I´ve never given a blessing in english either. And I can understand how it could be difficult.). She had sharp stomach pains and the doctors will only see critical cases right now. We went back thursday, but when we clapped, no one came out of the house.

Saturday, we passed by again and la Señora, named Ramona, let us in. She said that she felt completely better after the blessing. She was there waiting on thursday, but must not have heard us. My companion especially had been praying that she could be healed so that she could better accept the gospel. During the lesson, she accepted to come with us to church the next day. When we passed by she was ready and excited. We had called some of the members, saying that we were expecting her to come, and gave them the assignments to accompany her in the classes and make her feel comfortable. They did an excellent job and she absolutely loved it. When we passed by yesterday, she accepted a baptismal date for the 29th, the last Saturday of this transfer. She feels that this is her place. When she went to visit family after the church meetings, some of her family members told her that she was like she was before. Happy and caring. She had changed a bit during the months of difficulty with her stomach pains. It truely was a miracle to find and teach her. We will do all that we can to help her prepare for her baptism. We will also try to help her husband (who we learned used to play volleyball with one of the members).

Saturday was another day of miracles. My companion thinks he ate something bad (a combination of eggs and yogurt) that caused him to feel really sick in the stomach. I was starting to really get worried about how he felt. After my piano class, he accepted to receive a blessing. I felt the spirit as I declared that according to his faith he would be healed to work hard that day. Afterwards, he did not have one complaint about how his stomach felt. A we really did work hard.

To better help us have the necessary number of investigators in sacrament meeting to acheive our baptismal goal for the transfer, we decided to fast saturday after lunch. During this time of fasting, we had person after person accept us. We also found a mom, Rosa, and two daughters, who had heard the missionaries before and went to church a few times, but it has been years. We said we could pass by Sunday morning to accompany them to church. They accepted. When we passed by, we woke them up with our clapping, waited for them to get ready, and they too came. It is really rare for someone that is found on Saturday comes to church with us the next day. We have yet to go by to find out how it went and to see if it is possible to baptize them this transfer too.

And to add to the miracles we had an amazing day yesterday. We got back from Luján at 3:00. We were going to our appointments and they all fell through. We were doing our contacts for the day and after 20 contacts, we didn´t have one lesson. But things changed when we decided to go above and beyond. On contact 21 we found a married couple. Later we found another young couple that needs to be married. We had our lesson with Ramona. We had a lesson with a family with whom we had contacted a week ago. And we found another family in the which one of the older daughter and younger sons listened to us. 10 new investigators in total. That is our goal for the entire week! We couldn´t believe it. We were so grateful for the blessings God gave us yesterday. We know that such success wasn´t our own work.

I´d like to continue, but I have to go. I hope you have a good week.

With love,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

He's Halfway There!

4 Aug 2009

Dear Family,

Yep, I´ve hit a milestone in the mission now. I´ve been away from home for than a year and will be returning in a year. The 30th of July was made even more special because we had a Gira Misional (A Mission Gyro or Jamboree or no sé?) when Elder Zivic, the Area President, came to talk with us. We had the Gira instead of our zone conference. Elder Zivic is Argentine and was a mission president in Spain. I loved what he had to say. What probably impacted me the most was when he spoke about the difference between being proactive and reactive. That we as missionaries need to be proactive—in front of the problems instead of behind. This is something that I will try to improve this year. I am reactive. I don´t make bad reactions. Most of my companions say that I´m extremely patient and calm. But, I´m not a “beast” or a “machine” to work through everything (those are words that E´Rivas always used. Everytime we had a bit of success, like set a baptismal date he would say afterwards “¡Somos bestias!” or “¡Somos máquinas!”). So, I have the goal that in the next year, I´ll become more proactive. To be able to make decisions well and follow through with them.

This past year has been the hardest, yet most rewarding year of my life. I´ve noted many changes in myself. I think the main one has to do with what I spoke of in the above paragraph. I´ve become more confident in interacting with other people. I´ve always been able to get along with people well. I rarely have problems with others (which is the reason the President has and will put me with companions that have sharp personalities, such as E´Nieres and E´Rivas). But, during this year I´ve gained a better ability of working with others. I´ve become more bold. I´ve gained simple abilities such as talk with people who are strangers and making phone calls. I´m also glad to say that I´m fluent in Spanish. I feel just as comfortable listening to and speaking in Spanish as I do in English. There have been many times when people speak to me in the two languages and I don´t realize at all that they switched. Last week, I did a contact with a man. Afterwards, my companion said, “He was speaking in English.” I didn´t realize it at all. I was speaking to him in Spanish the entire time. Me siento incomado hablando en inglés la mayoría del tiempo.

This week went fairly well. We lost a lot of working time because many people asked us for service. We were going to paint a wall in the house of a member family, but they basically have a bakery inside. We spent two hours trying to scrape away all of the dough and oil that had plastered itself to the wall over the years. We didn´t even get close to start painting. We also helped tranport dirt so that a member with his wife Nora (who is planning to be baptized the 23rd of this month) can extend his house. We also helped with homework of some investigators and I´ve also begun to give piano classes on Saturday when half the world is sleeping (the siesta).

Thank you for the photo. There hasn´t been too many changes over the past year. Jessica and Jonathan look slightly older, but Jonathan has yet to hit his growth spurt and change a lot. Mom looks more like a Relief Society President in her hair and dress style.

And Mom, I agree with you completely. I don´t understand how we have had such a good family. I see broken families everywhere here. A family with all of its basic units is extremely rare now. I often wonder why and how I was blessed so much. Did we prove ourselves well in the Pre-Existance or did we show we needed more help? But, the main answer is that we have all strived to be obedient to the commandments of God, especially with regards to the law of Chastity. Breaking that law ensures sadness and affliction. There is no way to avoid the consequences. I am so grateful for the love we have for one another and our desire to follow the ways of the Lord. I often wonder what trials I will have to pass through in my life. I don´t feel like I´ve had to pass through many if any big trials. But, I know they will come. I just hope that I´ll be able to have a family as good as the one I grew up in. One in which there is love and union. I will pray and work for that righteous desire.

I know that this work is true and brings consolance. That sometimes we pass through difficulties to help us improve and learn. Yesterday, we had an appointment with an inactive family and they told us that that day passed away a family member, without warning. We were able to teach the plan of salvation and they want to return to church. They commited to pray and to read the scriptures. Two of them are 18 yr. old boy who I hope to help prepare to go on missions. I know that we were put in the path of this family in just the right moment. I know I´ll have many more such experiences this year.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mom's questions answered

28 Jul 2009

Dear Family,

Ok, I´ll start off by answering some of Mom´s questions. Yes Mom, I´d love it if you sent me photos (I can´t say the word pictures any more because the word in Spanish is fotos). Especially if you sent a photo of the family now. But, don´t send me too much. I only have 50 GB of space in my mailbox and if it exceeds that, it will reject your letter. Last week, I was near the verge of exceeding my limit, but I deleted a good amount of stuff and have 15 GB of free space. I would try to limit the amount you send to 5GB or so at a time. The photos you send I can store on my camera and print out later.

How far away am I from the mission home? That´s a hard question to answer because I don´t even know where the mission home is. I know it is somewhere in the capital of Buenos Aires, but that´s not part of the West mission. But, I think it would take me 2-3 hours to get there by bus and train. You could probably use Google Earth see where it is. The address of the capilla (church building) is something like 2900 San Carlos, Moreno, Buenos Aires, Argentina. We live a bit far from it, but that should give an idea of where I work. The mission offices are in Ramos Mejía.

Why do I say I think Elder Cumrine will make things interesting in the pench? He tends to talk a lot and says a lot of weird things. At times it seems he lacks a little bit of maturity. But, he is a good elder anyways. But I think I understand why the President has had him “kill” two Elders and is now “killing” Elder Thomas. Don´t worry mom, I´m using mission terminology there. When we arrive, we are “born.” When we leave, we “die.” Our last companion is the missionary that kills us. So, I am saying that even though that he has a lot of time and experience in the mission field, President Benton has chosen to stick him with a lot of missionaries that have even more experience to keep him as Junior Companion.

And yes Mom, I´m warm enough. This large coat you bought for me is warm and endures the elements. Nearly every North American elder has this exact same coat. I also always use on of the sweaters as well, along with some kind of undergarment for the legs. I also often use gloves and am very grateful for the sports ear muffs that you allowed me to have before I left. They are extremely warm and keeps the bitter wind off of my ears. Wednesday, Elder Callejas and I had a lot of fun working together even though it was cold, wet, and windy.

Dad, you really chose to work on the A-300? I thought you hated that plane. That one is much bigger than your DC-8, isn´t it? But a little bit smaller than the 747 and the A-380. But, I can understand why´d you´d choose it if it gives you day time flying.

This week has been a fairly good week for me. There is a good number of investigators here, but not too many of them are progressing. We have one really good potential named Nora. She is newly married to David, a member who is reactivating in this ward. I love teaching people in that situation, where they are just starting off, breaking the traditions of the parents, and looking for what will be best for their new found family. On friday, Nora had a lot of questions and nearly broke down crying because she felt conflicted, wanting to know if truely this is the church she should join and the path she should follow. She asked things such as “Where does it say in the Bible that one must pray to the Father in the name of Christ?” or “Where does it talk about the Book of Mormon in the Bible?” Usually when we get such questions, they just want to fight with us, but she really wanted to know. We didn´t have good responses at the moment, but we were able to study and give good strong answers. She loved it on Sunday and feels a lot more comfortable. Yesterday, she began asking us about the requirements of baptism. We weren´t able to confirm a baptismal date yesterday, but I think we will tomorrow.

This ward has a ton of inactive members because of a problem with a past bishop, but I think that the people will be willing to return now. We saw a good number of people come Sunday who didn´t come within the past month. To help animate and unify the ward, we have decided to begin doing Family Home Evening´s for the ward on friday nights and to teach piano and music on Saturday. We´ll see if doing that weekly will help.

Thank you for your letters and all the help and support you give me. I wish and pray for the best for you all. Until next week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Moreno 2

21 Jul 2009

Dear Family,

I now welcome you to the area of Moreno 2. I´m looking forward to a good time working here, but I´ll definitely miss Castillo 1. I became really close to many of the members and especially to the converts. There was a lot of crying on the part of many of the converts the past few days. But, they are in the Lord´s hands. They will be protected and guided. Most of them have a good relation with the members, so they will have a support. But I´ll miss everyone of the families I saw enter the gospel. I will try to maintain contact with them through letters, but there are so many that I doubt I´ll be able to keep it up much.

My new companion is Elder Callejas. Another Chilean! I can´t believe that I´ve had three companions from Chile in a row. Sometimes I think that there is a future purpose for having correspondences with Chile. A ton of the best telescopes in the world are in the Cordilleras (Andes Mountains) in Chile. Having the ability to speak Spanish and having contacts there might help me with my future work. But, that is only a supposition. It also could mean that I need to learn spanish better and I need a latin companion to help me out. I don´t know much about E´Callejas yet, but I´ll let you know as time goes on. But what I do know is that he studies Civil Engineering in college for a year, but isn´t sure what he wants to do in his life yet. He is thinking about being a PE teacher because he loves sports so much. He is a lot more tranquil than E´Rivas. But, I have yet to see how we´ll get along.

I am in another pench of four missionaries. We live in Moreno 1, so we´ll have to walk and use busses a lot. E´Tomas is our district leader. He seems quite a bit like me—really relaxed, but good. E´Cumrine is his companion. He was the companion of E´Lloyd in the MTC. I think he´s going to make our time here interesting.

I give congragulations to Jonathan for completing his Eagle Scout project. That´s a real accomplishment. He should be receiving his Eagle shortly now. Work to the end and get it as quickly as possible Jonathan. The diligence you put in now will serve you well in the future. And Jessica, good luck signing up for classes. It was a pain for me too. But, one of the reasons I´m really glad that I have a ton of credits is because I can sign up a lot earlier than any one else.

I don´t really have too much more to say, but I´ll work on sending photos. I have a ton now. More than I can possibly send. Before now I sent home nearly every photo I took. This week, I have about double what I had as I said my farewells.

I hope that everything goes well with you all this next week. I hope that I´ll be able to work hard and bring more unto repentance and the reception of blessings.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

ok Drake had pictures, but the laptop isn't letting me connect to the desktop where we have downloaded the i'll try to put them up later.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oompa Loompa ball

14 July 2009

Dear Family,

I don´t have too much to write this week either, so I will try to send some photos.

It is really weird to think that I´m nearing the halfway mark of my mission. I entered the MTC on July 30th and that is approaching rapidly. Nearly all of the Elders say that the second half of the mission passes more rapidly than the first half. I think it will come and go. Parts have been really quick, others have been really slow. Right now I´m in a slow part (having 9 of our 10 appointments fall through on Saturday, three of which we passed by with a member). But, next week it will all pick up.

Why will things pick up next week? It is nearly certain that I´ll be in another area next week. My time here in Castillo is coming to a close. It will be sad to go, but I do need a change. This area is fairly small to begin with and as the months go by, it feels smaller and smaller. It is hard to work diligently when you already recognize all of the people who have rejected you several times. I have no clue to what part of Buenos Aires I will go. It would be really funny if I went to Altos de Merlo, where Elder Gilmore was. I´d be following in his footsteps.

Yesterday went really well because we did “super-divisions” where every Elder in the entire zone did divisions with another Elder in the zone. I went to Lafarrere 2, one of the old areas of Elder Spendlove, with Elder Ariola. We didn´t have lunch supplied by a member, but he can cook really well. It felt good to be working in another area, calling different people to repentance and to come unto Christ. I felt a little more bold and energetic. It felt good. It is easier to do that with people that you don´t know because after calling the same people to change 3 or 4 times and you don´t see any progress, you begin to lose faith that doing it another time will help. Elder Rivas had a great time because he was with his old companion Elder Volkert (who is also going home next week).

Today we had our zone activity. Depending on what we did yesterday during divisions, we gained points. Elder Singleton, one of our Zone Leaders, is going home next week, so he decided to auction off all the stuff he won´t take home. With the points that I earned with Elder Ariola, I gained a cap and a bunch of other junk. Then we played oompa-loompa ball, where we play basketball, using the rules of ultimate Frisbee, but with a football. Meaning, we throw the football to one another, but can´t run with the ball. The aim of the game is to make the football into the basketball goal. It was really fun and wore me out. It is always fun completely surprising others by showing them that yes, I the nerd, can play sports.

I´m glad that you all enjoyed your trips and had a time to relax. I hope that I will find you all well next week when I tell you about my change and my predictions about what the next 4-6 months of my mission will be like. And I hope that you liked the photos (yes, I say photos now instead of pictures because of the Spanish word fotographía, or foto for short). I know I will witness great miracles anywhere I go to serve the Lord.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Monday, July 13, 2009


7 Jul 2009

Dear Family,

Sorry, but you´ll have to wait another week before I´ll send photos home. This computer doesn´t have a good USB port. They switched me to two other computers and either the keybord wasn´t working or acted as if CTRL was pressed down the whole time, so I decided to stick with this computer. So, I´ll send them next week.

This week we had the baptism of María Amparo Coyoche Benitez! As you know, we found her about a month and a half ago. We went to wish happy birthday to someone in the family and found out that it was her 9th birthday. We did all we could to try to reactive as many of her family as we could so that she could be baptized. Ciris Cáseres, a 20 yr. old, who was baptized in November (so he is a Priest preparing for the Melchizedec Priesthood), baptized her. It all went really well, even though the attendance was low.

Why was the attendance low? Because of the great fear of “Gripe A” or the Swine Flu. There are many cases here in Buenos Aires, but I haven´t yet heard of any cases here in Castillo—at least among members. But, it has seemed for the past few weeks that in every house that we go to, at least one member has had a fever. It is amazing that of the four missionaries in my apartment, only I got sick about a month ago and then recovered rapidly. All the kids are out of school. They were getting ready for Winter break and with the outbreak of the flu, the state decided to cancel school one week before and after the break, so everyone is out for a full month. In this stake, all activities and meetings are cancelled except for Sunday classes. In other stakes, such as Castelar (5-10 min. drive from here, one train station) even those are cancelled. I don´t know what I´d do as a missionary if none of my investigators could go to church for a month. “In a month will be your first opportunity to come and participate in the true church of Jesus Christ!” I can´t see myself being able to say that instead of saying “This Sunday…”

I´m a bit sad that our best investigators moved back to Peru yesterday—David and Berta. We found them only about two weeks ago. We contacted Berta in the street and she said that she would like us to come to help work out some problems with her and her husband (we never again heard or saw that there was a problem). We went and she was sick, but accepted us and listned to us anyways. Her husband was really interested. We went back another day and she was better, but her 1 yr old daughter was sick. They fulfilled all of their commitments (which is rare) and we visited them with a member from Peru. They worked in the same community (at different times, so they didn´t know one another) and talked about a man who lived in a house he had built in a tree which they had named Tarzan. They told us they were planning on moving back, but weren´t sure when exactly. And what really surprised us was that they said that they were already used to us coming twice a week to visit. That was only our third lesson! What surprised us even more was that we found them in the street on Saturday and David asked me, “You didn´t leave us something for us to read to prepare for the next lesson last time. What did you want us to read?” I replied, “You can start reading from the beginning.” He responded, “Oh, ok. I´m already in chapter 25.” They came to church on Sunday and loved it. I hope they´ll be able to unite themselves with the church in Peru easily. We´ll send their address to that mission. I´ll send pictures next week.

This week my companion has really begun to focus on learning English. He asked his girlfriend what she thought of him going into military school, which means they wouldn´t be able to get married for four years. He received a reply that she would support him completely with going into the military on the condition that they go to the US (her brother is in the US Air Force). He doesn´t know for sure if he will do that, but he feels compelled to learn English. So, I´m speaking with him in slow English as much as possible. It is difficult. It is much easier to communicate in Spanish, but he is progressing. It is like I am training a new missionary that can´t speak the language.

I wish good luck with the Eagle Scout project with Jonathan. I had an overwhelming amount of people come to mine to do a small job. I hope that he´ll have the same response. In this mission, I´m becoming known as a musician as well. More as a singer than as a pianist. I´ve sung bass in the past two transfer meetings and in some zone conferences. It is ice that I have the ability to read a part without the need of accompaniment. I think the French Horn taught me to have that ear. I just wish I could have a better tone with my voice and learn how to sing higher without it sounding strained.

I wish the best for you all. I know that you will have God´s guidance.

With love,

Elder Drake Ranquist