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

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Birthday Thanks

30 Jun 2009

Dear Family,

First of all, I need to thank you for the package. I absolutely loved it. It reminded me a lot of Christmas (for one, it is cold here now). Thank you for the letters, the socks, and the ton of ties. I was expecting one or two. I was surprised. Also, thank you very much for the Snickers. There is nothing as delicious as Snickers bars here. The big snack here are Alfajores, which are…hard to describe, round brownies with Dulce de Leche (creamy caramel) inside. They are good, but nothing like the candy bars we have. The snickers as well reminded me of Christmas because we often eat them Christmas morning. Thank you for the Mission Journal. I´m nearing the end of my first one.

And thank you especially for the music. That was an absolute surprise to me. I was getting really tired of listening to the same 6-7 CD´s that I have on my iPod. The rest of the Elders in my apartment don´t have music, so we´ve been listening to mine the entire 6 months. I have been tempted to break the rules and listen to some of the other “good” classical music I have, but which isn´t from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir nor hymns. So, I was extremely happy to have more legal music to listen to. I didn´t even know that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had 300 songs on CD´s. Where did you find it all? Already, we are picking out some of our favourite songs. My companion loves “American Salute (Johnny Boy)” or as I know it “The ants go marching one by one.” So do I because it is the exact arrangement that I played in the YPAS band. It is a difficult piece and the Orchestra of Temple Square blows us out of the water. Elder Lloyd absolutely loves the song “The battle of Jericho.” I´ve never heard that piece, but it is excellent. He sang such pieces in his high school choir. I also think he likes it because it says “The battle of Joshua” a lot and that is his name.

I passed a really good birthday. I´ve decided I want to have my birthday in a different country ever ten years. (I think I already told you that). I had a good lunch with Sara Dumos and afterwards we went to the house of Roxana to celebrate with Karen and Florencia. I definitely received demasiado (too much) cake that day. Veronica gave me an Argentina hat (they know how much I miss wearing caps) and by shear happenchance, Sara and Viviana gave me a matching white sweat shirt and sweat pants which I can wear under my missionary clothes to keep me warm. (Don´t worry mom, I have been kept warm with the sweat pants, sweaters, coats, ear muffs, and gloves that I have. And it hasn´t ever gone below freezing, so it doesn´t bother me too much).

How do I feel about being 20? Well, my definition of old has been incremented. I used to think 30 was old. Now I think that is really young because I´m still a kid. I don´t think old comes until 60-70, if anyone can be defined as old because in our time on Earth, we will always be lacking in experience and knowledge compared with our Heavenly Father. But I´m realizing more and more that I am now taking upon me the full responsibilities to fulfil the goals that the Lord has established for me. I will never again have the comforts and lack of worries as I did during my teenage years. It will be 10 times, if not 100 times more difficult, but that is what will push my eternal growth.

Here in Castillo we´ve hit a few roadblocks. We will have a baptism this Saturday and we are planning others for the next week, but there seems to be big problems with each one of our other investigators. One smokes, one is not married and leaving for Peru in two weeks, one is gay, one had a baby recently and can´t go out in the cold with him, one doesn´t have permission from his parents to be baptized… But I have faith and hope that each one can overcome these dramatic differences and be united in the true faith of Christ.

Oh, a few questions. I´ve always wondered, Mom and Dad, what were the reasons exactly that you couldn´t have children and if you know the reason, why did I suddenly appear after 9 years. I´ve had the question a long time, but never got around to asking it. Also, what is the history of our ancestors first entering the gospel, especially that of Alexander Ranquist, or was it Lars Ranquist?

I wish I could write more, but the time is gone. Have a good week all of you.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist