Sunday, January 25, 2009

Drake went golfing, weird

20 Jan 2009

Dear Family,

This was another fairly good week. The baptism went really well. We had a good showing of about 20 members with us who were all supportive of Hernan and his parents. His uncle, the recent convert, did the baptism (after the third try), and it was a really good experience. My companion had to give the talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost because the Aunt and Cousin backed out. And I played from the prelude book that I received last Christmas I believe for the interlude. Many of the sisters that came brought cake and pan dulce (a dryer cake with fruit inside which is alright). It was great to have this little reception to have the members develope friendships with each other and the parents of Hernan. One Brother was talking with the Dad about where they worked and found out that they work really close to one another. Another Hermano (Brother) overheard and said “Oh! I work really close to there too!” I hope that this will help the parents take the step to get married so that the Mom can get baptised (and more importantly to obey the law of God and receive the blessings). And we´d love to talk with the Dad one day. We really need more Priesthood holders in this ward, in South America in general.

We had one discussion this week that I never thought we would have with an investigator. We had to console the non-member mother of a missionary about a Dear John letter he received. He took it really hard (especially since he is older for a missionary, 26) and lost a lot of weight really quickly. He received permission to call home to talk with his mom. She told him what should be told, “their are other fish in the sea.” But she took it pretty hard too, so we had to talk about it a little. I just find it really funny that we had to talk about that with an investigator. My companion likes to tell other missionaries who have girlfriends that the chances that you are to marry your girlfriend is 2% according to the statistics of the church. I don´t think that he told that to her, but he did to E`Born and E`Zollinger. To all my friends, if you get engaged during these two years, I´d like to get a marriage announcement. E´Spendlove received one a few weeks ago and I´d like to know. The importance of the family does augment while on the mission.

Today for P-day, we went to play golf. It was fun, but really, really expensive. I don´t think it was worth it for how expensive it was. We were told by a member that lives right in front of it (and I think his grandfather works there) that it is $20 pesos. We went and they charged us $45 each one. Then we found out that this didn´t include the clubs. We had to pay $110 to rent a bag of clubs. That is carisimo! So we spent $75 for 2-3 hrs. of golf. We´re not doing that again.

We had another investigator come to church! I think I told you last week that E´Born and I went back to contact Natividad, the investigator who did really well in October for a week but then rejected us. She has a baptismal date for 14th of February, but we are going to be extremely careful with her. She seems interested and to like everything, but we´re not sure if her motives are right. She said she really liked the church and she doesn´t know why she stopped coming, but what it seems like she really wants is someone to teach her to read. She has had bad sight her entire life, so her dad took her out of school when she was young causing her not to learn. She still has really bad sight (I don´t think recognized us at first) but thinks she could learn to recognized the symbols and words if she had someone teach her. We´ll see what we can do through the Relief Society, but we told her we couldn´t promise anything. She has also been taking lessons from Jehovah´s Witnesses, but is going to tell them not to come by. It sounded like she said that they told her no that they couldn´t help her learn to read. So, we will continue teaching her and be very aware to see if she is really converting to the church or just trying to use us. I hope that she will become a faithful member even if I don´t think I´ll be in this area to see her through the entire process.

I hope that everything will go well with you all for another week. Oh, I just remembered. I was reading the conference talks, and the second one is by one of the couselors in the Relief Society about member missionary work. The 12 or so suggestions she makes is exactly what we as missionaries need. We are expected to do 5-10 lessons with members present, which means that we really need the members open to go on visits with us or open up the home to teach an investigator within. I´m glad to hear that Dad has gone with the missionaries a few times. That is wonderful. We need any member we can get to be available to share their testimonies with others.

Also, could someone (namely Jessica) look for the address of Elder Bryan Rees. He sent me another letter, but is now in Poland. If I sent a letter to the address I have (the MTC) it would probably take about 6 months – year to get there (it took forever for me to receive the registration to vote). It would be much quicker to just send it straight to him. So, could you get ahold of that for me. He´s a friend on my facebook account and his address should be there. Thanks.

It is time to write my letter to the president. We do that at after these letters now. I love you all and hope that you´ll always have the Spirit to guide you to the true hapiness and life that our Hevenly Father wants you to have.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A week in the life of a missionary

13 Enero 2009

Querida familia,

Ahora siento bien. I believe I had a pretty good week even if everything didn´t work out as planned. The baptism was rescheduled, which we were a bit disappointed about, but it happens at times. The family Pereira (namely aunt, uncle, and cousins) of Hernan weren´t able to make it to the baptism that day, so they cancelled the baptism without our knowledge. We walked up the church to fill the baptismal font and read a post-it that said “Elderes, El bautismo se posponó. El Obispo.” The Pereira family were in another city (when I say city, I mean other municipality of the province Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires Central is the capital city. I live in the municipality of Merlo.) when a surprise birthday party came up to which they couldn´t get out of. Sandro Pereira was going to do the baptism, Roxana has the talk on baptism, and Lucas the talk on the Spirit. So, they decided to postpone the baptism until this Friday. So we wait more.

Before I continue, I want to say thank you to all those that wrote and sent packages recently. We receive the letters that were sent every Monday in our District Mettings. Yesterday, I hit jackpot because of all of you. I received 3 letters, 2 DearElders, and a package. Grandma and Grandpa, thank you very much for the ties, socks, and treats. I really like it all, and so do the other Elders in our pensión. Something really cool and interesting happened with the cookies. Because of heat or humidity, the cookies gathered the minty taste of the mints in the package. It tasted really good. Elder Spendlove and Elder Zollinger are also begging me for the two ties you sent. You´ve always given me my favorite ties. And I think I´ll need the new socks soon as well. Thank you everyone. It is always great to receive from the old familiar world.

Since Elder Spendlove is District leader, he has to do divisions twice a week now. He almost always goes to the area of the other elders to help train the how they can work better in their own area, leaving me behind to guide the work in Villa Amelia. At times it is really stressful for me because I am still inexperienced. I like having more of the control to do the work, to participate more, but at the same time, I don´t always know what to do in many situations. One problem is although I can understand 70-80% of what people say, there is still a lot of room for error. And I´m still slow to speech, so it is hard for me to keep control of the lesson and guide their beliefs to the true doctrines.

Although divisions can be hard, they can be a lot of fun too. Especially yesterday. Elder Spendlove did divisions with Rivadavia, the Elders in our pensión. So, I had Elder Born as my companion again! Only for a day, but it was great to work with him again. We´ve grown so much. We had a great day of work and a great day to be together as friends. He can teach and connect with the people really well. He is going to do really well in the mission. We enjoyed remembering all of the experiences of the MTC we had together, which seems forever ago. We also worked hard, found new people to teach, and helped Hernan and Carlos come closer to the waters of baptism and the fruit of eternal life. It is interesting to think that we are going to spend at least a fourth of our mission living together. I think I will be transferred at the end of this month and I will really miss him. It is still possible that we´ll be zone leaders or something together, which would be really cool (although I have no aspirations to be a leader). But yes, yesterday was a great day with him in the work of the Lord.

No, Carlos didn´t go to church Sunday. We went by in the morning, but he had a list of excuses why he couldn´t go. Clothes weren´t ready, he had his mom coming to visit at 10:30, and other things. But I believe that he still has potential. He will have to wait until the 6th of February to be baptized, after the time I think I´ll be here, so I won´t see it. But nonetheless, I hope he becomes a strong convert to righteousness.

Many times I think this work is more to prepare me for my life than it is for me to change the life of others. Before my mission, I was so confident with everything, now I see my weaknesses as black spots on a silk sheet. I am learning how to be a servant of the Lord and son of God for the eternities. I will work my best to help others find greater happiness, but I will also work my best to make the changes I need to prepare myself for the future responsibilities I know I will have in the future. I know God has that power to make me strong in my weakness. I know He can do it for me and for every other person that humbles himself before Him. I´m so grateful for that redeeming grace after all that we can do.

With Love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Years!

6 Jan 2009

Dear Family,

I´m glad to hear that everything went well for the holidays. Things have been going pretty well here as well. First I´ll write about our investigators, and if I have time, about New Years.

Right now, we are planning a baptism for this Saturday! Hernan Murguía is his name. A 12 year old boy who we believe is ready to make the commitments, with the help of his mother, cousins, aunt, and uncle. We are still hoping that the mother will talk with her husband about marriage. From what I understand, they were talking about marriage about this time last year and decided to do it, but just didn´t put it very high on the priority list. When we last entered the house, there was a vase of flowers for “lo mejor mujer en la tierra.” We have yet to meet him, but we are told he will come to the baptism Saturday. We changed the time to a little later to accomedate him.

We have another baptismal date set as well for the 31st of January. It isn´t certain yet, but we´ll see. His name is Carlos and is about 25 or so. His story is a bit interesting. About 2 weeks ago, we were walking and he stopped us to talk. He was a bit drunk and showed us a leaf of Marijuana. But we decided to follow him to his house and teach him the first lesson. We left him with the folleto (pamphlet) not expecting anything of him. Yesterday, when we went by, he was different. For one, he wasn´t drunk. He read the folleto and said that he prayed and feels that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He wants to make the changes in order to follow the gospel. We have another appointment set and have plans to accompany him to church Sunday. We hope that things will progress well with him.

Sunday we had a surprise. One of our investigators, María Manchaca, who we had been working with for about a month and who promised us would come to church every Sunday, but always found an excuse to not go afterwards, showed up! We had put her on the backburner because she hadn´t been fulfilling her commitments. She has a son on a mission and another son preparing to leave (both live elsewhere). She also has another daughter and a three grandaughters living with her. The daughter is an inactive member, but came Sunday too. They asked my companion to do a baby blessing during sacrament meeting for the two younger granddaughters. It was really great to see them come to church.

Ok, New Year´s here is almost the same as Christmas Eve. Both are times for the people to get together and party and shoot off fireworks. But, the fireworks was a much bigger display for New Years. I now understand what it sounds like to be in the barracks during a war. We have walls and trees around us, so we could really see much, but it was loud for about half an hour. The missionaries that live in some of the bigger cities had it worse. But it was fun.

I wish you all well and I pray for you.


Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas in Buenos Aires!

Church Building and Quemados

Dear Family,

Ok, just finished reading the long letters of Mom and Jessica. I´m not in the usual Cyber, so I´m not sure how to print out the letters. Next week hopefully I´ll be able to print them all out. I like keeping the record.

Last week was definitely a different week, with the fiestas, Navidad, and all. It was a bit more difficult to do the work in some aspects, but easier in other ways. We went to our ward mission leader for dinner en la Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), but we missed out on the good stuff. He was cooking a great osado, but we had to leave early to get back to la pension by 10PM. We watched Joy to the World with them and ate the matahambre (literally translated is “kill hunger”) with cheese. It was alright, but I know the other meat would have been better. We had problems returning because at 8 the bus system and all the Remises (equivalent of a Taxi) stopped. A friend of Hmo. Carabajal was going to pick us up to take us to la pension, but it had engine problems. So instead, another friend with a car had to come by. We got back late. Oh well, we tried our best to be obedient. We were a bit frustrated through.

Here, Christmas celebrations are much different. In La Noche Buena, they pretty much stay up all night partying. They spend it drinking and shooting off fireworks. I´m not sure if that is such a great combination—I´m sure there were plenty of accidents. For preparations, there are kids selling cohetes (fireworks) on almost every street. They sell cohetes instead of lemonade. So, all night long, we heard cohetes going off. It is kind of sad to see all of these people spending almost all of their living on fireworks and alcohol. I guess that is one reason we are here, to teach them more wisdom. We still slept well during the night because we were exhausted.

Christmas morning I opened my package! Thanks family. I think I´ll definitely enjoy the Prego sauce. Thank you for the ties as well. I´m pretty sure Dad bought them. I recognize his style. Dad and I are fairly alike in our choices of ties. Thanks. And of course, thank you for the letters.

Afterwards, we had a zone activity. We went to Ituzaingo to first have our district meeting, because we had the reunion of translados (transfer meeting) monday. Oh, I should tell you that my companion, E Spendlove is now a District leader. He was saying the last transfer that he had passed the point that he would ever be a leader in the mission. I knew he would be the new district leader though. He will be a great one. He has a lot of leadership abilities. And it will also give him a chance to learn a little more patience (the aspect that he has been working on for his entire mission and he has improved. I wouldn´t say that he´s a very impatient person).

Ok, back to Christmas. Each district cooked their own lunches. We made pizzas, but with a more American flavor. We had some ham and pineapple pizzas. Also, we loaded others with meat and olives. I´m coming to like olives a lot more that in the past. Green olives, they don´t really have black ones here. They almost always put olives on pizzas.

Then we played quemados. Or in English, dodgeball. That was a lot of fun, but really tiring. And we were sore for the rest of the weak. We were still able to work, but a bit painfully.

The call home was really nice. Dad, I used your AT&T card, so I´m going to save the one I bought here (for 10 pesos! So cheap) for mother´s day. It was great to hear all of the voices. Although, I felt that it was really short. 40min. isn´t much time. And yes Jessica, you can laugh at my English. I had a hard time speaking at first because I was still thinking in Castellano. Especially with simple things that I say every day constantly, like Sí and ¿Qué? I couldn´t say those in English at all. I look forward to the next call.

We have another baptismal date, for the 10th of January I believe. Hernan is the son of one of our investigators who is a family member of a recent convert and has been coming to church, but has to get married first. Hernan wants to get baptized and he is ready. He also has the friendship of his cousins to help him stay active. We hope his mother will follow him soon. And that we can talk with and help his father in the process as well.

Yes, it is getting hot, but you shouldn´t worry too much. We nearly always have a breeze, which helps a ton. And there are a lot of trees. They don´t cover the road too well, but they make nice shade spots to have lessons. On hot days, we get plenty of water and juice from those we teach, so we don´t get dehydrated. Don´t worry.

I love you all and am glad you had a wonderful Christmas. May the spirit of the Lord always be with you and that you can enjoy your breaks from school.

Elder Drake Ranquist