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