Sunday, April 26, 2009

Birthday gifts

21 Apr 2009

Dear Family,

Ah, I used nearly all my time reading and formating your letters in order to print them! I´ll try to get said what I need to.

I´m glad to hear that things are starting to calm down. And the report about religion was really interesting. I can see the same trend happening here too. The majority of the people say they are Catholics, but don´t go to church. There are more and more saying that they aren´t apart of a religion and there are many atheists as well. But I´m glad to hear that the church is maintain its percentage and is growing all over the world.

To answer the question of what I might want in my birthday question, I´m going to make a Dumbledore request. I probably haven´t searched around enough, but I´d like some more black socks. Many of my good ones have lost a lot of their color. It is kind of weird, on the outside some are nearly white now, but on the inside, are still pretty black. So, I have been wearing them insideout. The socks I have found are of the smaller, finer type and I prefer the thicker cotton, especially since we´re headed into winter (and I prefer the thicker type as well because the mosquitos have a harder time biting me through them). The other two things I´d like is a pack of mechanical pencils. I´m following the example of my companion and am using mechanical pencil to make all the plans in my planner. They are more expensive here, don´t come in packs, and don´t come with erasers. And my other request is a bit of chocolate. There isn´t much good chocolate here. I´d love some Snickers. Yeah, those are my requests. Oh, and ties are always nice.

This week, I´ll admit has been really stressful. The family of Ana María weren´t baptized this past week because we are having some problems with the ward mission leader and the Bishop. Every baptism this ward has had, the missionaries have had problems over the same theme. We have spent a lot of time calling our mission leaders, consulting with them what to do, studying the rules to answer the questions that we have. I believe that the problem will be fixed this week. But I wish to praise my companion for how he has acted through all of this. He has acted with love, trying to avoid contention, but also knowing what is right. Some of the missionaries that hit this same difficulty didn´t act with such distinction.

But I know this is the work of the Lord and that He gives inspiration to all of His leaders. I know that the Spirit will be with us all as we seek it and are worthy. Sorry this letter is so short. Have a great week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, April 19, 2009

He's getting old

14 Apr 2009

Dear Family,

I´m glad to hear that everything is going well, even if things are more lonely. I never realized that the problems with Jasmine were so bad. Does Jessica hate you now Dad? (the answer is no, of course not!) I think she is a little bit older now and a bit more understanding this time. But I can´t imagine not having Duchess and Jasmine in the house. Things really are going to be completely different when I get back.
Right now we are on the search of more good investigators. We have several potential good investigators, but we have yet to see. Ana María and her family will be baptized either this Saturday or the following. There is a youth activity in the evening that Gabriela and Federico wish to attend, so we´d have to do it at 11 in the morning. Ana María has been ready for a long while. She is more peaceful with her life. We can see a change. But we´re not completely sure if all of her children are quite ready. So, it is still in the air whether we do it this week or the following.
This week, I felt a lot of the joy of missionary work as we were able to teach a lot with the Spirit and also feel and see the changes that people have made for the Gospel. One day, when we passed by, Veronica came out and talked with us about some of the problems she and her family are having. They´ve had the same problems since we first passed by and although it hurts a little to hear of the trials, I rejoiced in the way that she was facing the challenge. Her reaction is completely different than our first visit when she complained and blamed others. This time she looked at it with a more eternal perspective, understanding that it is a part of life, and with the testimony to say, “but I know that I´m never alone.” The Gospel has changed my life and love see it improve the lives of others little by little.
One of the lessons that we had this week really showed the instantaneous change a person can have after they listen openly to a part of the message of the restoration. We were walking along a street that we are on often when my companion contacted a girl in the gate of her house. We started teaching a charla corta (a short version, 5-15 min., of lesson 1 to give a brief understanding and to set a return appointment) when her mom came home. We have contacted that house a few times before and she started saying “We´re pentacostal, ...” and starting to reject us. We rehashed a little about what we were teaching about the life of Christ when she said, “we believe the same thing, what is different about your church?” We taught how Christ formed only one church and about the restoration and prayer. She opened herself up and was really interested. We were able to enter the house, sing “I am a child of God” (E´Gonzalez is one of the few latinos that can sing harmony), and prayed on our knees. Although we have yet to see whether she and her family will decide to take the steps to know that this is the true church, it was nice to see how a heart can soften. This isn´t a rare occassion. The problem is that often they forget what they feel afterwards and don´t put forth the effort to know and to ask.
It is great to hear about the missionary work that is going on in our ward. I still feel kind of bad that I didn´t go to the baptism that we had just a bit before I left. I should´ve gone. I hope to be able to participate in a lot of baptisms throughout my entire life. I don´t ever really remember our ward having much missionary success. It may be that I was too young to notice. I don´t know. But I really do agree with E´Perry, that the missionaries today, with Preach My Gospel, are the best teachers that the church has ever seen in this dispensation (or at least since just after the very beginning of the church). Continue helping missionaries find people, so that they can spend the majority of their time teaching. This work is rolling forth.

Oh, this week, Sara (mother of Veronica, Vania, and Romina) went to visit her family in Chile. While she was there met up with the family of my companion. She had a great time. My companion asked his parents to send all sorts of stuff back, which he received today. It is nearly impossible to send packages between Chile and Argentina. I don´t understand exactly why, but this is one of the first packages my companion has received. It was cool to see and try some of the Chilean candies. They eat lots of marshmellow, which they don´t have here.

This morning I realized that I´m as old if not just a little older than Mom when she got married. You really were young! I´m glad that I have a little more time yet to prepare and learn to be better.

I hope all will be well with you all and that the Lord continues pouring out His blessings upon you. I know He will. Until next week.

Con cariño,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mom's Birthday + Conference!

Last week was my mom's birthday! After what had happened that week I'm sure she wasn't all that excited, but she did recieve a great birhtday present! We all thought Drake would forget, as he tends to do. To our surprise however, not only did he not forget, but he managed to give her a great present! He bought an international phone card and gave it to one of his converts. She then proceeded to call mom to wish her a happy birthday and tell her (my mom) how much she loved Elder Ranquist. Mom was smiling the rest of the day! There was a bit of a language barrier, but enough Spanglish went by that they were able to understand eachother. Happy Birthay Mom!

7 Apr 2009

Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Mom! I´m glad you liked my birthday present. I bought a calling card the P-day beforehand and gave it to the Dumos family to call. I really wish I could take credit of such a brilliant idea, but it was my companions. His mother had a birthday last month and he did the same thing. I wasn´t sure about doing it at first because I didn´t want to give you a language strain, but I decided that you would love it anyways. So, happy birthday and know that I love you.

I´m glad that although this past week has been really difficult, you could make it through and that everything went well. Two weeks ago when I was told about the approaching death of Grandpa, I prayed sincerely that God would send his angels, living and dead, through the power of the ministering of angels that under the Aaronic priesthood, to console and strengthen you all. I hope that you felt their presence.

Oh, and Mom, could you send your talk over again, but under a different file format. These computers don´t have .docx access. Or in other words, I use an older version of Word and it can´t open the newer versions. When you save it, you need to select where it says “Save as type” (or that is the nearest translation, I don´t remember what it says exactly) and select one that says *.doc. Dad can help you I believe. Thank you.

We had a surprise baptism this Saturday! Last Sunday, the mother of Noelia showed up (who was baptized by us last month and moved back to Tucuman) at church. We went and talked with her and realized she was more than prepared to enter the convenant of baptism. She reads the Book of Mormon and the Bible every night, prays, fasts when she needs a spiritual boost, and doesn´t even listen to the radio or watch TV on Sundays. Her only problem is that the church is 2 hours away from her house by a bus that leaves at 6AM or 9AM. That bus is also really expensive. So, she can´t get to church all too often, but promised to try to do so as often as possible with Noelia.

She leaves this Thursday, so we decided to hold her baptism in between the sessions of conference this Saturday. It was hectic but went really well. Her huge family came and were really supportive. Her son, Ricardo Días, baptized her and her brother, Gerónimo Días (who is the second counselor in the bishopbric), confirmed her right after. We had special permission from President Benton and Bishop Candia to do so. I can´t wait for the church to make it out to her town in the country as a branch, when she´ll be able to help the enlargement of the church. She will be a pioneer.

I just absolutely loved conference. I had to listen to the Saturday sessions in Spanish because they didn´t have the English line set up. I could understand nearly everything, but it loses a lot of power and emotion when you only hear the voice of the translator. They don´t have the same power of voice as the apostles and the prophet. And some translators and worse than others. I´m so glad that I can listen to it in English for the majority of my life.

Two themes really hit me during the conference. They talked a lot about service. The other phrase that I heard over and over was that fear and faith can´t coexist. I have the fear of future church service, namely leardership. I´ve always had that fear. But I know that I will be a church leader. The way I want to lead my life, there is no avoiding it. So, I´m going to try to change my attitude and instead of having fear of that day, prepare for it with faith. And I think that day might start in just a few weeks. I´ve been on my mission 8 months now and my companion and others that I´ve talked with think that I will be Senior Companion next transfer. My companion even thinks that I´ll have a good chance of training as well. I don´t feel ready for that responsibility. I´ve never had responsibility over anyone. I´ve only ever been responsible for myself. But, I will learn and the Lord will shape my back to fit the burden.

And as a missionary, I absolutely loved the talk by Elder Perry. He´s right, we do spend most of our time trying to find people to teach. But Elder Spendlove during a talk once said “I don´t want to be out in the streets, in the hot sun. I want to be in your comfortable homes teaching your friends.” I´m glad that Elder Perry helped show that it is the member´s responsibility to “warn their neighbors.” I also absolutely loved that talk by Elder Holland about the Atonement of Christ. It was extremely powerful. I´ve been studying a little more about the Atonement and I can´t express the gratitude I have for what he did. I want all to enjoy of its power.

By the way, the last photos are from a party the President hosted for our zone because of our hard work last transfer. We played a lot of ping pong and volleyball and had a lot of fun
I hope you will all be found well and that the Spirit of the Lord will fill you with the truths of the Gospel to repentence and righteousness.

Con cariño,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jonathan's got an admirer!

31 Mar 2009

Dear family,

I got your setter just fine Dad and I´m sorry that it has been so hectic this week. I send my best wishes and prayers to all for the loss. But, I wrote everything I wanted to say last week in my letter, so I will continue on with a normal letter.

First of all, we had a great baptismal service for Veronica and Vania Dumos. I think I´ve already written a ton about them the past month, so I don´t need to explain how we found them and everything, but teaching them has been a blast. Their Mom, Sara, told us the first time we went, here are your next two “Mormonas” (after going to the baptism of Roxana, Karen, and Florencia) and she was right! I had the opportunity of baptizing Gabriela Veronica Dumos Silva.During the baptismal service, we four missionaries sang, as we always do a musical number, “Haz tú lo justo” (“Do what is right” I think it is called in english) because one day while we were teaching they said that they remembered that hymn from singing it in church and when they slipped and said a bad word or something they sing the part “Do what is write (haha, as said, his english is slipping!) let the consequences follow” (but the spanish version has a bit of a different meaning, but I don´t remember the lyrics at the moment). They smiled at that. They will make excellent members if they continue with the same zeal that they have now.

We´ve found that baptismal services are one of the best ways of sparking interest in the Gospel—one of the best ways for someone new to experience the fruits of the Spirit. We are trying to teach the mother of Veronica and Vania and I think she is becoming more and more interested, especially because of what she has seen in her daughters. We also think that their dad and the husband of Vania are interested. Men are harder to teach because of work and they´re a bit more hard hearted in general, but these obstacles can be overcome.

Now to say Thank You! I received my package yesterday and I love it, especially the photos. They are perfect to show a bit of who I am and make a bit of a better connection with the investigators. I don´t think that I´ve ever really seen the picture of my own baptism. And Jessica, you look beautiful in your Senior Photo. Jonathan, I have to warn you that you might have to work a bit harder now on learning Spanish. I showed the photos to Roxana and her twin Daughters and Florencia took a photo of your photo to put on her cell phone. I gave them your email address (it is, no?) saying they could write him. So, you might get a few emails in Spanish from them. If you need help translating them, you can use the internet, your Mom and sister, or send it to me. If you want to reply, you can try in spanish or do it in English and I can help translate it when they get it. They need to learn English anyways for their classes.

Continuing on with giving thanks for the package. Today, my companion bought some oragami paper in order to do some of the characatures (I don´t know how to spell that and spell check in Word here doesn´t work) in the book you sent. I think we might have some fun with that today. The Gardetto´s opened up a bit, but I think they are alright. The only problem with all of the snacks is that we are fasting together as a zone, so they served as a temptation last night. But tonight I will be able to deleitarme (feast) with the other Elders of Castillo.
Oh, I think I should resend my address. You send my package well, but I got a letter from your cousin, Dad, saying that she´s tried to send two packages and has had problems. One of which was returned with the address she wrote completely erased. Jessica, you might have to correct my address on facebook. If people want to send packages or letters (without using DearElder or pouch) they have to send it to (and please correct this if it is wrong because I don´t have my address on me right now):

La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días
Elder Drake Alexander Ranquist
Misión Argentina Buenos Aire Oeste
C.C. 72
1702 Ciudadela
Buenos Aires, Argentina

I hope there haven´t been any other problems because of that as I´m afraid there has been.

Thank you Jessica and Jonathan for the letters. I can see that you are working on your Spanish Jonathan. You wrote all of the numbers well. Un día, va a poder hablarme en Castallano sin problema. Estudia. I wish I could help you on the basketball team, but I´m afraid that I´ve passed the limit. But just give your all and have fun. And Jessica, good luck with all of the arrangements for BYU. I´m glad that Jessica, Zephne, and Sarah are helping you out. They´ll be great guides. Follow the Spirit, it will indicate what to do.

I hope that you can find joy out of this week, even though it may be hard emotionally. Be ye of good cheer.

Con cariño,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Grandpa Augason (1931-2009)

My Grandpa Augason- Gordon Clark Augason- died last week on Saturday March 28. Here is his obituary
AUGASON, I GORDAN CLARK, 78, I died Saturday, March! 28,2009 .. ]
The world lost who some knew as "The father of infrared astrophysics."
Dr. Gordon C. Augason is survived by his wife, Wendy Lu ., (Jackson) Augason; his daughter, Stephanie Ranquist (Alex); and son, Mark Augason; along with six grandchildren.
He will be missed but now is searching the stars after a battle with Alzheimer's. He was an active High Priest in the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. He was an avid mountaineer and sailing enthusiast. He had an adventuristic spirit. His list of achievements and published writings for NASA are too many to list.

His burial was in Utah in Saturday April 4th.

Drake, when he heard of Grandpa's condition, wrote this letter
24 Mar 2009

Dear Family,

I was sitting here staring at the screen, thinking about what I could write when the power went out. So, I´ve moved to another computer to begin writing. But this computer doesn´t have Internet right now, so hopefully I´ll be able to send this setter somehow. Ok, now it works.

Right now I´m not exactly sure what to think or say about Grandpa Augason. Death is still so foreign to me. I know it exists and that all with pass through it. I know that I already have a few relatives who have passed through this veil. But I´ve never really had to face it head on. Although I never really had the opportunity to become really close to Grandpa Augason, we did spend a lot of time with him. So it is a little more present.

Let him know for me that I am continuing the legacy that he tred. That the ideals of his life I have taken upon myself. Ever since I was young I knew that my grandfather was a scientist and studied the stars. And ever since that tender age I have wanted to do and learn the same. Although I never was able to really experience Grandpa as the scientist, just the knowledge of who he was and what he did has helped to teach me who I want to become. I share with him the love of science, the love of the Gospel, and the love of family. I desire to pursue the progression towards the fulfilment of his dreams.

Yes, at this time we do mourn. I remember reading somewhere recently that if we don´t mourn, we didn´t love. That if we don´t feel the pain of the loss, we didn´t value what we had. But we will also rejoice, for we know the promises of the Lord. There´s a passage that is really supportive at the end of Alma 28. I don´t have my scriptures with me at this moment (and if I did, they´d be in Spanish), but it basically says that the relatives of the Lamanites who threw down their lives because they wouldn´t take up arms against their bretheren mourned, yet rejoiced. That they mourned because of death and destruction, but the rejoiced in Christ who gives us life.

The past few weeks I have had to help console people who have lost their loved ones. If there is one doctrine that consoles more than any other is the knowledge that all of us will one day be resurrected. That we will take up our bodies once more, whole and perfect, never to be taken away from us again, whether we lived a good or bad life. I know with a certainty that I indeed will meet Grandpa Augason, and know him with his whole mind. I will get to know him if I didn´t already know him as a good friend before this life. And I know you know this too. Yes, I will keep you and grandpa in my prayers as he passes through the portal of a new and wondrous adventure.

To give an update in what is going on in Castillo, we have the baptism of Veronica and Vania Dumos this Saturday. They are extremely excited. They have entirely swallowed everything they can about the Gospel. They want to help us missionaries in any way that they can. Elder Lloyd began teaching music/piano classes and E´González and I are going to start teaching English. Noone went to the music class this past week. When Veronica and Vania found out, they made some really nice small posters to put on the bulliten board in the church to announce that classes as well as cards to pass out. All hand made. And while we were visiting Ana María, who lives just two houses down, they came by passing out invitations to their baptism. I really hope that they´ll always able to maintain this zeal.
We are still preparing Ana María and her family too. They have a baptismal date for the 18th of April. She, Gabriela, Federico, Florencia, and Victor will be baptized that day along with investigators of Castillo 2. We are planning a “Sábado Blanco” (White Saturday) where we hope 10 or more will enter the waters of baptism for just our two wards. It should be a beautiful experience.
I continue working hard for I know this is what the Lord wishes of me. I love you and hope that the spirit will console your hearts.

Elder Drake Ranquist

We will all miss my Grandpa, but we know that he is ecstatic to be learning the secrets of the universe that he always studied.