Sunday, September 27, 2009

La ultima visita al templo

22 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

Thank you very much for your letters. I am very grateful that I receive them on a weekly basis. E´Callejas often complains that his family isn´t very constant and he never knows if he will have an e-mail in his inbox or not. So, I´m very grateful for your consistancy and thorougness (I can´t spell in english anymore. Spanish makes much more sense.).

This saturday, we had the baptism of Hernán. His uncle, the bishop of Jardines and who helped us so much convince his mom that this would be a good experience for him, came to do the baptism. He is an excellent man. I wish I had photos, but I forgot to bring my adaptor to transfer it to the computer. It went really well and he was really happy. I was also able to play one of the Goldstein arrangements of “The Army of Helaman” on the piano during the baptismal service. He participates in my piano classes, so I told him if he practices, he´ll be able to play that song for one of his converts when he goes on his mission in a decade. I find baptismal services to be one of the best reunions that we have in the church.

Today was bitter sweet because it was the last trip to the temple that I´ll have in almost a year. I will have to wait, like so many others in the world, to be able to experience such peace again. The president told us to go with a question or a doubt that we have to be answered. That we should go and think about our mission and what we want with the rest of our missions. I couldn´t think of a question I wanted answered, so I decided to go with the spirit of gratitude-to think about all of the miracles I have seen thus far in my mission and give thanks for them. The greatest desire I have for the rest of my mission is to continue with the joy that I have received at the hands of our Savior on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I know that I have been the witness of a lot of success and miracles thus far in my mission, and as you reminded me in your letter Dad, I constantly remind myself that (just as Ammon did while rejoicing in the success of his mission) every person that accepts us, every person that comes to church, and every baptism is not the result of my own efforts, for I am nothing. They are the result of the miraculous power of God and His Spirit.

Dad, you also wrote about another part that I need to improve. I really need to find time to write more in my journal. I´m glad you are keeping the letters that I send (they´re on the blog) because this is a little of the time that I have to write in my journal. At the beginning of my mission, I was really good at writing every day, but as I take on more and more responsibilities, I lose more and more time. I´m trying to make sure that I write at least every time that someone is baptized to recount their story of conversion. But it is really difficult when we get back between 9-9:30, plan for 30 min., make phone calls to verify our appointments, call to have daily contact with the investigators with a baptismal date, talk with Moreno 1 and General Rodriguez about their days, and try to eat my three fruits (which often I don´t even have time for that now), it is hard to squeeze in time to write in my journal. Time has never been my ally. Every day I wish that I could have three timelines to do everything I want and should do. But, I´ll put more effort to find time to write in my journal for you all and my posterity. I know it will be useful.

I think I´m glad as well Mom that you decided to change your mind about the couches. I was trying to image leather couches in the family room and they just don´t fit in my mind. I know, it is probably that I hate such changes, but I think you made a good decision going for something a little closer to our preferred style. But, I think when I get back it will be just as bad as when Dad got home from his mission to live in a different house. I won´t recognize anything.

Oh, before I forget, which card did you want me to use again? The debit or the credit card? And if it is the credit card, can you send the pin number? I don´t remember it at all.

I hope that your recovery goes well and that you won´t have to be too patient Dad. I love you all and love hearing from you.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bautismos Actuales y futuros

14 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

This past week hasn´t been as spectacular as the past few weeks, but it was a fairly good week anyways. The highlight of the week was the two baptisms of Valentina Rodriguez and Lourdes Chaparro. It went really well without too many problems. I´m sending the pictures, so I hope you like them.

As I told you last week, Valentina came out of nowhere, we interviewed her, and she was ready within those three hours. We passed by once during the week and everything went well. She is a very special girl who really wants to follow the commandments of God. Her step-father (who also happens to have the last name Rodriguez), our ward mission leader, baptized her.

We didn´t feel like we had to do too much for Lourdes either. She read the pamphlet about the restoration and 3 Ne 11 the first night we talked with her. Since that day she couldn´t wait to be baptized. She was a huge help and support for Ramona. The only difficulty was that she worked in the capital all week long and only came home for the weekends. But, she is smart enough to handle a lot of information at once to get through all of the lessons to prepare her. We called her two to three times a week to answer questions, but couldn´t do too much more. She asked me to baptize her and it was a pleasure.

Now, we are preparing for the baptism of Hernán this Saturday. We were doing our contacts one day and interrupted the conversation of two women. Patricia came and asked if someone had given us her address to pass by. We told her no and asked if she is a member, which she is. She had moved there 5 months ago, but never decided to go to church, even though it was fairly close and recognizable. We also found her 9 yr-old son and decided to prepare him for baptism. At first they kept saying, “Not too soon.” But, with the help of her brother, the bishop of the Jardines ward (who has a voice that really reminds me of Dr. Ray), she realized that this would be the best for Hernán. I think she wanted him to be a perfect child before being baptized, which is impossible, especially because I think he has a kind of ADHD. He´s come the last four sundays and will be baptized on Saturday by his uncle.

We´re also planning the baptism of Gastón, Rocío, and Romina. We found Rocío and her mom one day doing our contacts and they told us where they lived and we set an appointment. They live really, really far away in our area and we were lucky to find their house without good directions. Gastón (14) and Romina (12) came to church last week. Rocío (16) came with them this week. We passed by twice this past week and they are very accepting and Gastón, Rocío, and Romina accepted a baptismal date for the 3rd of October. We have general conference that day, so I don´t know when we´ll really do it. Their mom and stepfather, who are not married, were going to come to church on Sunday, but backed out for fear of leaving the house alone and being robbed while they were away. We´ll see what we can do for them next week. This family is really humble (their house is an old Evangelical church that the pastor gave to them) and has passed through a ton of trials, but are extremely innocent. Their eyes look pure. So we have hope for them.

This past week was a really good week for this district. For the first time in my mission, the entire zone (both districts) completed their 140 contacts for the week. I´ve never heard of a zone doing that. With a little bit of encouraging and energy, we were all able to do it together. I know that such diligence will bring greater miracles to our zone. It also makes my job as district leader a bit easier.

I hope that your surgeory goes well Dad. I´ll be praying.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Milagritos que nos sostienen

7 Sep 2009

Dear Family,

I´m glad to hear that nearly everything is going well. I´ll continue praying for Dad and his back. I´ll start off by answering the questions the Mom and Dad sent because I didn´t have enough time to do so last week. First of all, no, I never received the package from grandma for my birthday. I have no clue what happened to it. But, Grandma, thank you very much. I´m sure I would have loved it. And thank you for the one you sent for Christmas. And the HLJ rings made a good gift for the younger converts in Castillo. I gave them to the twins, Karen and Florencia, and also to Vania and Veronica. I don´t remember to who else. I know they wore them for the first few days, but I don´t know if they took them off when they realized they turn the finger green. (I don´t know if the ones you sent do so, but I know the CTR rings do and I think one of the children here in Moreno said the HLJ rings do too).

This past week, I was thinking about asking if you were going to send another package soon. The main thing that I want is a package of mechanical pencils. The ones that I buy here break (for internal reasons, not because I maltreat them) within a week. I´m still using one that I brought from the US that still works, but I don´t count on it lasting the rest of my mission. I prefer to use pencil when I plan instead of pen for obvious reasons. The other thing I wanted to ask for was more Post-It notes. Those have been excellent to mark chapters in the book of mormon that I want the person to read or to leave behind a note or to have something to write on. They also fit really well inside of my scripture bag. So it would be nice if you sent a few more pads of normal sized Post-it notes.

With regards to food. I don´t really care that much. I´m used to the food here now. But, what could be nice would be some more snickers and nuts. The nuts in a trail mix or whatever because those are a good, healthy, fast snack that puts something in the stomach. Other than that, I don´t need anything else.

And I think I´m still good on clothes. I did lose one of my grey pants. How I am not sure. It was probably left behind during a transfer or got mixed in the clothes of another missionary. But, I´m fine using only 3 pairs of pants. They are still all in good condition. All of my shirts are still good. Well, one of the long sleeve shirts has bad rust stains on it because I accidently left a few nails in the shirt pocket, but I always wear a sweater to cover it up anyways. My only problem is that I think I´m going to need to take out a bit more money from the bank to buy white pants when we go to the temple. In the baptism of Nora, E´Callejas and I both lent our baptismal pants to David to see which one would fit better. After the baptism, the pants of E´Callejas came back wet, but mine never showed up. And they haven´t shown up yet either. So, I think I´ll have to go buy new ones on the 22nd and use E´Cumrine´s on Saturday.

Ok, now to talk about my week. It was really quite a good week, full of its own little experiences and miracles. The first is that we worked hard and with all of our force and God blessed us for our efforts. The main miracle came to pass yesterday. After church, we had a meeting with our ward missionary leader (it is a bit difficult to work with him because many times he doesn´t do what we ask him to do, but I think he is improving) and he surprised us by telling us that he wants us baptize his step-daughter next sunday. I had no idea that he has a 9 year old step daughter that lives with him and who went to church the past two sundays. We told him, “Great, we´ll go talk with her right now!”
We began talking with Valentina, and found that she is completely ready to be baptized. Her family had taught her well. She wasn´t able to go to church and be baptized before because her real father often comes to take her home for the weekend, but she says that she has been praying that he doesn´t come because he insults her and she wants to go to church. It is really sad, but what is even sadder is that it isn´t uncommon. The zone leaders came for the baptismal interview of Lourdes (the niece of Ramona who is really excited for her baptism) and we had them interview Valentina too. So, within 3 hours of getting to know her, she had her interview and will be baptized with Lourdes on Saturday. It was really nice to have that little gift from our Heavenly Father.
This sunday we had a bunch of people in church who aren´t members. Several of them need to get married first, but it sounds like they are actually going to start working on the papers this week. There were also two children of a family that we found this week that are really humble and inocent. We were walking and doing our contacts and we found a woman and her daughter selling movies. We set an appointment with them and felt that they could be really good investigators. On saturday, we went to their house, even though they live really, really far away. They live in the middle of a large campo (field...I can´t remember the best word) in a small house given to them by a pastor of another church a few years ago. There are a lot of children in this family and we showed the the video “The Restoration.” They really liked it and the Mom told us that she had prayed to know which is the true church a few weeks ago and that she had a dream that she didn´t quite understand, but showed her that she shouldn´t go to an Evangelical church. We felt a really good spirit with them and we have a lot of hope. She couldn´t come yesterday, but two of her children did and really liked it. We´ll be going back on Wednesday to see how they are doing.

Thank you for all your help and prayers. I´m loving it here right now, especially with E´Callejas and the effort that he puts forth. He´s a true example for me, just like E´González was. They really help me to gain the potential that I have. Until next week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exito Sobre Fiasco

1 Sep 2009

Dear family,

I hope I have time to explain this hectic yet rewarding week. I´ll start off with the change that I´ve had. Yesterday, we had our Transfer Meeting and I have now been assigned as District Leader. Dad, I believe I remember you telling me that you were once a Travelling Elder, going around the mission training all of the District Leaders. Do you have any suggestions? Since the beginning of my mission, I knew that I would be called to be such a Leader and I was quite scared. But, over this past transfer (month and a half) I was able to feel more comfortable with the idea. I really hope this will help me develope the love and service for others that I so desire to improve. In this district, there is E´Callejas, E´Cumrine, E´Vita (came in to replace E´Thomas and is from Peru), E´Gonzalez (from Paraguay. We lived in the same pench in Castillo and we are already good friends), and E´Since (also from Peru). I´ll try to take a photo one day and I hope to be able to have the inspiration to know how to inpire them and give them “animo” (a combination of energy and a positive attitude).

Oh, another change that I need to inform you. Our Preparation day has been changed to Monday, so I´ll be writing you every Monday from now on, with the exception the week of the 21st, I´ll write Tuesday the 22nd. This is due to a very sad news. The temple is closing for renovations that will take 1-2 years. The 22nd, I´ll go to the temple the last time during my mission. This makes me especially sad because I won´t be able to see the sealing of Lionel and Viviana Lizondo. Without such visits, we can have our P-days on Monday.

This Sunday we had the baptism of De los Ángeles Ramona Gutierrez and Alvaro Lopez. It was one of the most difficult baptisms that I´ve seen, but we were able to overcome every difficulty that came in our way. Ramona was completely ready and had her interview last sunday. Went to go work in the capital for the week, but returned early, telling us that the lady she was taking care of wouldn´t let her read The Book of Mormon at all. She began having doubts about being baptized because of problems with her family. Her husband was saying that after she is baptized, she will be completely different. I believe he thinks that she will begin “living” in the church, which isn´t the case. She had the fear of missing even one sunday every once in a while to go with her husband to Luján to visit. But, we were able to help her see that missing one sunday is very small compared to not being baptized with regards to disobedience to God. On Saturday, her brother came and was a bit drunk. While we were there, he started saying that we need to give her more time, a month or two, because she is confused and needs time to think. We explained that she was ready and that she shouldn´t wait. It was a bit difficult, but we were able to help Ramona feel better while her drunk brother was present. Eventually he left and Lurdes, her niece, came and she said “You´re having doubts? I´m not going to let anything get in the way of my baptism. I can´t wait.” She really helped. (By the way, Lurdes will be baptized the 12th).

Alvaro was a bit of a surprise. He is 14 years old and has been receiving the missionaries since January. He wasn´t progressing, so we stopped going by his house as often. His Mom realized what was happening and that we were helping Alvaro a lot be better. She told us that we can´t stop passing by, even if he doesn´t get baptized. With more of her support, Alvaro came to church last Sunday. In class, they started talking about the duties of the priesthood and told him that he could be a Teacher, but has to be baptized first. This got him so excited that he came to us to ask us when he could be baptized. We told him on the 12th.

We had an interview the President Benton this past Monday and he was asking if there were any more possibilities. We had the goal to have 200 baptisms in one transfer and was asking if it were possible to have a few more to acheive it. We told him about Alvaro and said it would be alright to do it this Sunday if we prayed about it and verified that he had a true change. When we went to Alvaro on Monday, he showed us that he really had changed and was excited. So we decided to do it Sunday.

But, things got more difficult. Saturday night, at 10:20 PM, we received a message saying that the water pump in the church had broken and that we wouldn´t have water to fill the baptismal font. We went crazy. We had E´Thomas and E´Cumrine fill the baptismal font in Moreno 1 and somehow we would bring everyone there to do the baptism. We brought a ton of coins to church the next day just in case. During the first class, we talked with the bishop and he called for Hma. Diaz who has some friends who have busses. During the first hour she went on her bicycle to go find them and after church we were able to take everyone to Moreno 1 to have a successful baptism. It was really stressful, but we were able to do it with the help of the ward. It was miraculous.

And by the way, we didn´t quite reach 200, but we had 192. Breaking records everywhere. It was an amazing transfer.

I send my love and prayers.

Elder Drake Ranquist