Sunday, June 28, 2009

He Two Decades Old!!!

I can't believe my brother's actually 20. By that time, my mom was married!!! Crazy. He's too young for that, haha.

23 Jun 2009

Dear Family,

This has been a great week here in Castillo. We have been able to amp up our work efforts a bit more and have seen even more of God´s miracles. First and foremost, we had the baptism of Marcos Lobos and Victoria Acosta. I will start working now on sending the photos. It was a pleasure working with them. Marcos Lobos was already active, he just needed permission from his parents and “listo” he was able to enter into the waters of baptism. His Uncle, Hmo. Sanchez, baptized him. Victoria at first didn´t want to get baptized, but after working with her a few weeks, she finally accepted (we found her the day after E´Rivas arrived here in Castillo). The Patriarch, Hmo. Hilario Guzmán, baptized her. I´ll admit that I do like to be the one who does the baptism, but I will always work to try to help another in the ward to do it.

We had to have the two baptisms separate, so that the parents of Marcos could come, which really cut on our working time (especially because we had zone conference as well), but this week went really well. We were able to do all of our contacts and we were blessed to find more investigators. And we have two more miraculous investigators. They have nearly the exact same story as Lionel and Viviana. Alberto and his son Maxi walked into the church Saturday afternoon as we were giving the classes of English and Piano, just as Viviana and Lionel. E´Lloyd and E´Brooks taught them and found out that they live in our area (I hope we can help them find such miracles too). Maxi was invited by a girl (that he likes a bit, but she doesn´t quite like him in the same way. She says that she doesn´t know what brought her to invite him. She is a member in Castillo 2.) to come to church and that sparked interest in his father as well, who had been with the missionaries 20 years ago, read the Book of Mormon, and knows that it is true, but never got baptized. So, the two came to church on Sunday and loved it. We went by their house that day and he asked, “What do I have to do and when can I be baptized?” He and his son accepted a baptismal date for July 11th. At the beginning of each transfer, we have to set a baptismal goal and pray about it. The past two transfers I wanted to put one number, but I felt a different number. We reached those goals exactly. This transfer, I felt the goal of 4 baptisms this transfer. We´ve had two baptisms and not many prospects to fulfil the goal. I´ve been wondering “Who will the other two be?” I think we´ve found them. But, I´m not going to let my guard down. We will work the hardest we can to prepare them well for the covenant they have decided to make. I know that there is another force working his hardest as well.

I still can´t believe that I´m almost 20. Oh, I´ve realized that I want to have my birthday every 10 years in a different country. A different continent if possible. I was born in Germany (Europe). 10th birthday in China (Asia). And now my 20th in Argentina (South America). And yes I received the package, but I haven´t yet opened it. But, I´ve run out of time again. I hope you all have a good week. The next time I come to you, I will no longer be the teenage Drake.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Oh and I need to make a correction from the family update. My dad has NOT had surgery, it's just a possibility that he really doesn't want to think about. I think I heard them talking about it and assumed that he was. I'll keep you updated...maybe, haha.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

6 Jun 2009

Dear Family,

I´m never quite sure what day certain holidays fall on, but I think that it probably has already past. So, I will say, Happy Father´s Day Dad! I hope that you had a good Father´s day and that the Lord continues to reward you for the decisions of your life and good actions of loving fatherhood you have expressed to me and my brother and sister.

Sunday, we had Stake Conference, which was a broadcast from Salt Lake to all of Argentina. I absolutely loved the first talk by one of the Seventy. I wish I could get a copy of it. He talked about the difference between “ser” and “hacer.” Or in English, “being” and “doing.” He focused this talk to the parents in how they should raise their children. That they should always focus on helping their children reach their potential. When they are acting badly (portándose mal, I don´t remember the exact word…ah, the word is misbehaving), remember that these are temporary actions and not who they are. One should never say to a kid that “They always…” or “They never…” or that they are “stupid,” or any such thing because the child takes this as their identity and can never overcome it. There were many other great parts that helped teach me about how I can be the father I want to become. I am so grateful Mom and Dad that you followed this counsel of church leaders.

Recently, E´Rivas and I have been talking a lot about our potential and what we wish to do. About how we are very glad that the church helps inspire us to achieve our great potential. I´m glad that you always helped me feel that I could do anything that I put my mind to. My companion says that his Mom would say “Wake up” when he had dreams of achieving high goals. But he is glad that through the Gospel, he knows that he can achieve anything and is willing to work and fight for it. This is what a lot of the youth all over the world lack—dreams. Without them, no one has the motivation to work with their might. That is one of the greatest tools of Satan, making us feel that we aren´t capable of reaching our potential. There isn´t much else that has such a disastrous effect on the heart of men. We all face it, but in the end we will see who was able to overcome it.

This week wasn´t the easiest week because, just as you stated in your letter Dad, we are having a hard time finding new investigators to teach and prepare to make covenants with God. Without investigators, we can´t teach very much. We can´t do much of anything. But I can´t complain, this week we have two baptisms. Marcos tomorrow and Victoria Saturday. They have been great to teach and have received a lot of support from their families.

We had planned to also baptize María Coyoche this week, but she didn´t make it to Stake Conference. We´re trying to decide what to do with her because she is ready to be baptized. She understands the covenant and wants to do it. The problem is that her family is inactive and she can´t make it to church alone. Her Mom, Dad, and all her older siblings are working on Sundays. Coralia, the oldest sister, was the one bringing her to church and was working, but she recently started up again. I don´t want to baptize her if she can´t renew her covenant every week. We´ll work to try to reactivate the family.

I´m glad to hear that you are enjoying your summer, that Scout camp went well, and that your back is getting better Dad. I also had a lot of fun when I did Tower and COPE at Scout camp. I agree with Jonathan, it is quite a hike. I hope you also get your Eagle Scout done soon.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, June 14, 2009

He stays in Castillo

9 Jun 2009

Dear Family,

I welcome you once again from the ward of Rafael Castillo 1. I thought there might be a change, but all will be the same for the next month and a half. I´m getting a little more used to my responsibilities as Senior Companion and everything, but I still have a ton to learn and improve. E´Rivas will continue helping me out. And so will E´Lloyd. He is my District leader and came to Castillo (and Dad, please pronounce it something like “Cawsteeshow”) with me. So, we will be together in our apartment the full 6 months (him being patient with me as I talk about our triumphs and trials every night).

The recent converts were really glad to hear this news. I´m not sure I quite understand how converts can get so attached to 19-21 year old kids. Many of them have told us that, especially the days right before their baptisms, we show up in their dreams at night (I´ve actually been really surprised in how common that the answer to their prayers come through the form of powerful dreams). But I´m glad that through the testimonies that I´ve heard from them, they are more attached to the Gospel and really have seen the changes in their own lives.

Little by little I´m coming to understand the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants (I think it is 16: 19-20) but I´m not sure of the section number, that says something like “how great shall be your joy with them that you helped bring unto repentance.” I have been extremely blessed to be able to see these families change their lives and be witnesses of the blessings of God. Viviana gave her testimony in the Fast and Testimony meeting this week and she explained how she followed the spirit. In my own life, we have generally always lived all the commandments and I know blessings have come from them. But that is not as grand as a testimony that comes from the soul that lived without law and makes the changes to live with the law. Seeing these changes in their lives gives me the joy that the Lord has when we repent and come unto him. I have the desire to fulfil my calling to use my gifts to bring many to the truth and to convince them of the errors of their ways as it says in DyC 6:10-11 my entire life through. I hope that as you all are fulfilling your responsibilities as a part of the tribe of Ephraim, you too will experience such joy.

This has from the right, E´Rivas (my companion), E´Sureda (the companion of E´Spendlove last transfer), me, E´Spendlove (behind E´Lloyd), E´Lloyd, and E´Brooks. Thank you Dad for letting me steal the ear warmers. They´ve come in handy.

Lionel, Elder Rivas, me, Viviana, and Sara in front. All in white ready for the baptism

The family of Lionel and Viviana. The father of Lionel is an inactive member who taught his son in his youth. The Dad´s Book of Mormon that Lionel had was a crucial element in his conversion. When Lionel had a spark of wanting to know a little more about religion, he found it through that Book of Mormon. The brother now has more interest and we have yet hear news if he is receiving the missionaries.

Part of the family of Sara. Veronica and Carlos are there with her. Vania is bedridden because of her pregnancy. Carlos is an excellent man and with time, I´m sure that he´ll accept the gospel.

We got to a zone activity a little earlier than the zone leaders. So, we had to wait in the cold. There is a lot of construction outside their chapel, so we waited in the large sewer tubes that were right outside the gate. In this photos there is E´Spendlove (my old companion who has just now finished his mission), E´Brooks (the newbie), and E´Lloyd (my district leader).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ranquist family update!

Ok, so I guess I should have said "plus some Ranquist family tidbits" in the title of the blog, because now every time something happens in my life my Mom gets on me for not putting it up here! (you see, she doesn't want much about her to go on the site, just mainly Jonathan and I). So here's a small post in accordance with the "Ranquist family tidbits."

I'll start with Mom, since she's the one who's been bugging me to update: Stephanie's doing well. She's gotten the Relief Society President thing down a little better, though she still is constantly busy! She had an old friend visit her last week and got a much needed break.

Dad: Dad has actually been having some problems. He has a herniated disc with a tear in it in his back. He's going through some surgeries now and will be out of flying for 3 months. It happened at a great time though, because UPS just parked his airplane and won't be able to train him on a new one until the end of the summer. So instead of having to take a sick leave, he is able to stay home and rest for 3 months while still being paid!

Me: I graduated duPont Manual High School!!! (yes, the d is not supposed to be capitalized)
My graduation was last friday, the 5th. I can't believe it's actually over. To tell the truth, it doesn't feel too weird yet though. It hasn't really clicked. I am going to start at BYU Provo in the fall and can't wait! I have already talked to some of my roommates (I'm staying in Heritage Halls in an apartment-like place with 5 other girls).

Jonathan: Is no longer a Freshie! He finished his first year of high school and is elated to move on (I think). He's excited for the summer break...and playing the computer.

Mom also wanted me to put up a picture from Prom.

Drake's turning 20 this month!

2 Jun 2009

Dear family,

Ahh, I can´t believe that it is already my birth month. I´m not quite sure I want to cross the threshold of 20 years. I guess that is how we all feel every time we cross into a new decade of life. It is hard to leave behind what is past and go into a new stage. It is possible that I will see even more change next week. We are nearing the end of another transfer (every 6 weeks), meaning I could find myself anywhere with anyone next week. I think I´ll still be here in Castillo, which would be great because than I would share my birthday with Karen and Florencia, the twins that were baptized about 3 months ago, who also were born the 26 of June. But, I´ll find out next Monday (where I will sing with E´Gonzalez again).

This week, there were some more changes as well. Sara, Viviana, and Lionel were baptized! I would send pictures, but I can´t get this USB jack to work. But the baptism went well. There wasn´t the highest attendance due to the rain and change of schedule, but the baptism proceeded well anyways. I baptized Sara (who claims to be my mom here in Argentina as is she washes and cooks for us) and Viviana (with whom I didn´t prepare myself an I nearly baptized myself as well trying to get her out of the water. I explained afterwards that I was following the example of Alma found in Mosiah 18 when he baptized himself with Helam). My companion baptized Lionel. We tried to put one of the priests in a level of confidence with them, but the priest himself said that he didn´t want to baptize them because he didn´t work hard enough with them. We´re still having problems on that theme, but we´re trying our best. The brother of Lionel was at the baptism and he became very interested. He lives elsewhere, so I hope all works out well with him as well.

As I was reading your message mom about how you didn´t want to go on a long hike because of the heat, I had a hard time imagining it because it is starting to get cold here. I´m starting to always were thermals under my pants and wear along with my long white shirt a sweater, and the double jacket that I have. I used to say that winter was my favorite season, but that was when I ran from heated building to heated building, I didn´t have to work outside not especially not take a shower in an unheated bathroom (at least we don´t lack warm water). But the changes in temperature caused me to get sick this week. I started to feel week Wednesday and crashed when we went to do a service project painting a house. I just sat in a chair talking with the investigator and her friend while my companion painted. I felt bad, but he understood well enough. I spent that night and the next morning in bed with a fever, but I was able to get up to do our weekly planning. I was feeling better, so we went out to work that night. But when I got back, I had a fever again. But, probably due to the prayers of the Elders in my pench, I recovered to go out and work well Friday. We had devisions and I went and worked well with E´Brooks, a newbie (we don´t really use the term Greenie, probably because it doesn´t quite work in Spanish). I´m glad I´ve grown out of that “infant” stage where I had to rely completely on my companion because I couldn´t understand anything of what was happening in the world around me.

This next transfer, we are planning a lot of baptisms for chicos (youth). One of the girls that went to the young single adults convention, a 3 day trip to Mendoza I think, has decided to get baptized. Her name is Victoria and is from Paraguay. She is living here with her Aunt and her family for schooling I believe. Originally the family lived in Castillo 2, but moved here to Castillo 1 and went a little inactive. The Elder´s Quorum President told us that we should go to their house one day to invite them. When we did, we found Victoria. She has already gone to church numerous times to Castillo 2 and also goes regularly to Institute. She didn´t accept a baptismal date at first, but two weeks ago when my companion asked “When are you getting baptized?” She said, “When Elder Ranquist said I was getting baptized, June 6th.” “Ok, June 6th it is.” But, she didn´t come to church this week, so we´ll have to wait another week. She already asked the Patriarch to baptize her, which I think would be wonderful.

Also, in the house of our ward mission leader lives his nephew. Or basically lives there. He is there 5-6 days a week and goes home to his family every once in a while. Marcos, 14 years old, is already active, but his parents didn´t allow him to be baptized. But now they say it is alright. So, we are planning for him as well.

The day that I went on a devision with E´Brooks, we had noted that one of the kids of an inactive family had a birthday. So, we went by to say happy birthday and we learned that it was their unbaptized daughter who just turned 9, putting her under us the missionaries. One of her sisters is already trying to come back and the rest of the family want to as well. So, as we help to reactivate the family, we´ll be preparing for the baptism of María Coyoche.

Sorry I could send photos. I hope that all continues to go well at home. Good luck with the rest of your finals Jonathan. And enjoy your summers while I learn to cope with the cold of winter again. Always remember that I know that this church is true, that we have a living prophet, and that the grand blessings of heaven come through obedience to His divine laws. Until next week, from wherever I am.

Elder Drake Ranquist

El Barrio Crece

26 May 2009

Dear Family,

Happy independence day! Dad, yesterday basically was Memorial day here in Argentina because on May 25, 1810, Argentina received its independence. At the church, they had locro, which is a kind of corn chowder that the people ate in olden times when in poverty. I don´t know very much about the events of when Argentina received its independence, but it was a good holiday. I´ll make sure to let my companion know that it was Memorial day as well.

Jessica, I thought that you had already done your Senior photos. The photo that I received in the mail must only be the one for school, the one that will be in the yearbook. Everyone here says that you look really beautiful. Make sure to send me a physical or electronic copy of your other Senior Pictures. And the photo of Jonathan that I have is great too. Veronica says that he looks like Nic Carter, one of the Backstreet Boys. (But I have luck that the people at first think that your picture is one of me, which means that one day it is possible I will be as good looking as you). Oh, and good luck with your finals. All of your work and studying will pay off. And Jessica, there is no way any of my friends would have been able to convince me to skip a day of school, even at the end of Senior Year. I like school too much.

To answer your question Dad about the reasons not to take a member with us it is because of our standard of excellence. The goals we try to achieve, which says that we should do 10 lessons with members and 20 other lessons every week. If we work hard and efficiently, it is possible to do. He wants to keep an equilibrium between these lessons and he does have good points that lessons with members always take longer, to allow the investigator to get to know the member and also to allow the member to speak. In this area, it isn´t too difficult to complete the 10 lessons with members. But to try to get 30 lessons in total it is much more difficult. But we try to decide what would be the best thing to teach and how to teach it for every lesson. Things are improving.

I can´t remember if I told you last week or not. I received a letter from Elder Reese, who is in Poland. I feel really sorry for him. His mission is really tough. I wrote him about our standard of excellence and he said he showed it to his companion. They laughed, and then cried. The best they can do in one week is one lesson per day (2 with member and 5 others each week). We could do that in one day if every thing worked out just right. They spend a lot of the day tracting, or going up to intercoms of large apartment complexes and calling on the inhabitants to see if they wish to listen. In our mission, tracting doesn´t really exist. At times we clap a house, but nearly all of our contacts are made on the street or talking to people who are on their front porch, drinking mate, behind their fence. We do that while walking from house to house of different appointments or if we don´t have an appointment, of looking for investigators that we have already taught once or twice but weren´t there for the return appointment (Argentine culture doesn´t understand the word appointment very well). Missionary work is still difficult because we want to do the best that we can, but I´m glad that we actually get to see constant fruits and miracles in our work.

Speaking of fruits, we have a baptism this Saturday and another one planned for the following Saturday! Sara, the mother of Veronica and Vania, is getting baptized. I am very grateful that we found that family to teach because they serve us so much, physically and spiritually. Veronica continues with her zeal in the Gospel. She already gave a talk in sacrament meeting and has now been asked to give one of the Family Home Evenings that our ward holds every Wednesday night. Since her baptism, she has already read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, Principles of the Gospel, Teachings of Wilford Woodruff, and nearly all of Teachings of Joseph Smith (and I think as few other things which I can´t remember). She goes through them like Jessica and novels. We had a bunch more books in our apartment that we gave her, Teachings of about five other prophets, Jesus the Christ, Book of Mormon Institute Manual, and a bunch of other stuff. That should keep her for a week. Vania has a hard time doing much of anything right now because she is pregnant! She is really sick and has a hard time eating. They were really worried for her as well because a year ago, she had all the symptoms of being pregnant, even placenta, but there was no child inside. But they have confirmed that this time she will have a child. We´re all happy for her, even if she feels really miserable right now. Sara is excited for her baptism and she is making her own white gown. And I´m really hoping that Carlos will one day accept the Gospel. He is a great husband and father, but doesn´t seem to want to commit quite yet. But, Sara let me know that he did say once that he would like to get married in the temple. That is my goal for that family. Have them all sealed to one another. I would love to see Carlos be baptized soon so that they can go to the temple in a year and I can be present.

Lionel and Viviana continue making progress and are excited for this Saturday as well. Last night I called Viviana in order to set a time for the Baptismal interview and she said she was in bed reading the Book of Mormon. They are doing really well. It is great to see this ward grow. The chapel was packed this Sunday. Nearly every single recent convert came and there are several inactive families who are starting to come again. One day, the bishop said that there are possible plans to make the stake of Rafael Castillo, to split Catán and another nearby stake to form it. My dream is to be the zone leader who opens the zone of Castillo and continue to watch it grow.

We are also teaching a girl named Victoria. She originally was in Castillo 2, but moved into Castillo 1. She goes to Institute and to church often, but never decided that she wanted to be baptized. She finally accepted a baptismal date for June 6. Afterwards, she even went to the patriarch (who lives in our ward) to ask him to baptize her. He is an amazing man and it would be excellent to see him do the ordinance for her.

I hope that all continues to go well and that you can feel this spirit of missionary work in your lives.

Elder Drake Ranquist