Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bautismo y Asignacion Especial

23 Nov 2009

Dear Family,

Sorry, but once again I am found with little time. I will print off you letters to read later and try to write as much as I can now.

The baptism of Nora went really well. We were able to overcome all of the difficulties that popped up on Saturday. They didn´t come to the piano class, so we felt that we should head out to see them, even though they live really far. When we got there, they were standing there wondering whether or not to come because of some problems. We helped them decide to come. When we got back, the font was only half full. We had left it running, but the motor to fill the tank where the water for the font comes from was unplugged. So, we drained the entire tank and there wasn´t any more water. We plugged in the motor, waited a bit more, and filled the rest of the font quickly with cold water. It wasn´t too bad. It was a good, happy baptism. Patricia and her Mom also came and loved it. So, Patricia will be baptized this week or the next.

So, why don´t I have time? I probably won´t have any time to think straight for the next month. I received a special and difficult assignment (but at least I´m not district leader any more). I am now in the area of Jardines. About two or three weeks ago, the Elders were taken out of that area. It was tragic. One of the Elders that got here with me (not from the MTC in Provo, but a latin starting here) had a problem with a girl (I don´t know how serious yet) and was sent home. His companion wasn´t sent home only because he was new. So, I and Elder Cuberos are sent there, after a White Wash, to save the area. At least I do know the bishop that was relieved this past Sunday (Bishop Barreto, the uncle of Hernán). But I don´t know the new bishop yet. We don´t have good maps to carry with us and the Area book is incomplete.

So, this transfer will teach me about true miracles and about how to rely on the arm of the Lord and not on my own strength. It will be difficult and will take a lot of organization, but I know it will be possible. My main goal is to gain the confidence of the members, to help them trust the missionaries again, and to do all the Lord asks of me.

I´m excited for my new companion, Elder Cuberos. This is his second area and only has 6 months on the mission, but he already proved himself to be a great missionary in his last area. He has the desire to work hard and be obedient. He knows English really well already (and he didn´t know anything before the mission) and it will be a joy to be with him. I see that our personalities match well already.

So, please pray that the Lord and His Spirit will be with us this transfer. Nothing but that will get us out of this mess. I love you all and wish the very best. And have a good Thanksgiving. I will keep in mind of all the reasons I´m thankful, but especially for having such a wonderful earthly and heavenly family.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 22, 2009

El Pozo y La liberacion

6 Nov 2009

Dear family,

It´s good to hear that the production is going well, even though there are a few kinks. I hope you have good attendence and that the spirit can have a powerful impact. I´d love to be there if I could to see it. Actually, I would love to be there to act in it. I kind of want to act in one of those special musical productions. The year I did it, it was fun, but still not of the same professional quality. I think I would put more effort into memorizing my part too. Here in the mission, many of the Elders say that I´ll sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (which makes me feel good, even though I doubt the possibility). It surprises me that most of the Elders know me for my voice more than for my piano abilities. I think I will want to take a few voice classes at BYU to learn how to sing solo parts a little better to be able to do such productions. I can sing parts well, but I don´t know how to craft my voice at all.

I feel kind of bad that I can´t claim that I worked the best the past several weeks. I´ve been getting way too lazy, especially with the doing the contacts I should. And I´m not just overreacting either. At times I have “animo” (it is the perfect spanish word to say that one has energy and vigor to work hard), but then it leaves after a few hours. A few times, I just gave up and it takes a long time and a lot of help once you´ve given yourself into that dank hole. It makes me feel even worse that I´ve been leading the rest of the district in the wrong direction too.

I started off today feeling that way too, but the zone activity really helped. I got there and just started pounding away on the piano. I absolutely love David Goldstein´s arrangements of the hymns. That might be one thing I might want for Christmas. I have Sacred Piano Preludes Volume one (so I´m sure that there is a volume two, and they are excellent to invite the spirit at a zone conference or at a baptism or anywhere) and “A Musical Companion,” the book I bought right before the mission. I love that book just to start pounding away with large chords and fast left hand movements to let off steam and be inspired. They are there in my skill range to be able to sight read or to practice up quickly to do as a solo.

While at zone conference, I was glad that Elder Rogers, one of the zone leaders, came to play ping pong with me and talk. He is a really special Elder with the ability to lift anyone up. He knows how to help make anyone feel good, make them feel worth something. And he works harder than nearly any other Elder too. He is a great example and helped me lift me a bit more out of that hole I had dug for myself. And it is always fun to play ping pong (it is a common sport in all of the churches here. I really think that our wards should adopt the same system for those that don´t want to play basketball as much). We also played a bit of Mafia, the common scout game. I enjoyed it today.

What has kept me up a bit is that we have hopes of having one or two baptisms this Saturday. First of all, we have Nora Mendez. We haven´t been able to teach her too much yet because we keep finding other people to teach in her house. So, she´s heard about the restoration and baptism a bunch of times. But, doesn´t know all of the commandments yet. So, I was thinking about setting the baptismal interview on friday. But, luckily, the thought came into my mind that I should have her read question 4 of the baptismal interview questions and she told us that she has a problem with it. That means that she will need to have an interview with the Mission President. He is booked this week because Elder Bednar is coming for meeting after meeting and to speak to all of us on Thursday. So, the President won´t have much time and if we had learned about it later on in the week, I don´t think it would have been possible. It isn´t certain with her, but I think it will be very possible.

Our other possibility is Patricia, the friend of the Mendez family. She had the parents permission for her to listen to us, but not to be baptized. It didn´t seem like the Mom was going to be very supportive. But, on Saturday, we found her in the house of the Mendez family. My companion said before we got there, “She´s in the firing hole. A house of pure love and testimony.” So, we started talking with her about what she thinks about Patricia coming to church. She was a little reluctant. So, we showed The Restoration, the 20 min. movie, and then started to explain that this will help Patricia a lot in her life, but she needs the support of her family, especially her mom to endure to the end. Nora then talked about how at first, she wasn´t going to let her kids go to church, that she felt the Mormons were trying to rob her kids and take them away, and all sorts of things. But, over time, she saw that we teach only good things, she wants them to go to church every Saturday and Sunday (yes, I continue teaching piano on Saturday, but it has been difficult because so many kids have started coming, wanting to learn, it is really hard to give them each a turn within the hour), and that she has made the decision to be baptized. We emphasized the fact that she needs to pray to know the answer. The next day when we went, we talked with the Mom and she said she prayed a lot the night before and she felt that this would be good for Patricia and the she would have her full support to follow this path. That was a great miracle and we´ll see if she´ll be able to be baptized with Nora on Saturday too.

I love you all and I have energy to help the stone cut without hands roll forth,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cosas y La Rocio

9 Nov 2009

Dear Family,

Thank you for your letters and especially thank you for the package. I got it about two weeks ago, I think. I love it. I´ve finished up the trail mix and I´m nearly done with the Gardetto´s, but I´m munching away on the other stuff. And thank you for the pictures.

And what do I want for Christmas? That´s a good question that I don´t really have an answer to. It seems like after so much time in Argentina, I have stopped craving things from the US. I don´t really care that much. As for clothes, I believe my pants and my shirt will last the rest of my mission (and I found my white baptismal pants about a month ago. They were with a member who had taken them home to wash). My main worry is my shoes. In one of the pairs that I bought at home I´ve worn through the sole and when I walk around in it, it lets in a lot of dust and dirt to the ball of my foot. But, I´m going to take it to a place to get it resoled. The ones I bought last christmas are holding up, but I´ll have to get them resoled before the end of my mission too. And I´m starting to use the shoes I kept for conferences and interviews to go working in. So, I might want to go out looking for some more new, high quality shoes. They´ve served me quite well. A lot of other missionaries have the leather come apart before the sole wears out. I might also want another package of good socks because with the soles like they are, the socks are wearing through much faster. But don´t worry, my feet feel fine because I have nice thick, strong calluses there on my feet to protect me. But as for other stuff, I don´t really know what to ask for. Oh, yeah, the charger for my electric razor stopped working this past week. I don´t like to shave by hand as much. You also asked about replacement blades and I think that would be good too if I can charge up my razor. And...I like letters and good ties. But the good ties tend to get given away quickly. And in the letters, I´m kind of curious about what has happened in the past year in scientific and space news. I have no clue what kind of discoveries have been made.

About housing? I´ve been kind of worried about that my whole mission because I don´t know at all. I had thought that I´d like to get to school on a bike or by moped, but I´m not sure if I want to rough it in the cold. The single apartments sound good but that could be a shock after living with a companion 24-7. I also was thinking about asking Elder Gilmore and Elder Sabey if they wanted to try to room together. I´ll ask them on the 22nd when we have our transfer meeting.

And I don´t think it would be the best idea to get the new computer now. I wish I would have time to get good suggestions from the Astronomy professors to know what to get. It is possible, but not certain, that any computer I get, I would wipe in order to put Ubuntu or another Linux operating system, which is much more compatible with scientific study and programming than Windows. But I´m not sure if I´d go to the trouble of doing that.

How´s the weather been here? It always reminds me of Louisville—very sporatic. This past few months it has been changing constantly. It has been a bummer that it´s rained many sundays, making attendence much lower and cuts our hopes for investigators. Other days it is really hot. Other days really nice. Other day cold. A bit of everything. But I´ve been pretty good at guessing what will happen and at what time in the day it will rain. I´ve learned to judge the weather.

This past week, all of our success and be rooted to Rocío Mendez, the recent convert. She is an excellent missionary, inviting and teaching everyone. She can get to the kids much easier than we can. For the first time, her Mom, Nora, came to church. We´ve been teaching her a little, but in order to be baptized she has to either marry or seperate with Victor, who is really lazy. But, this past week, if I have the story right, Victor hit one of the younger daughters and Nora said that he had to leave, called the Police, and he has a restraining order now. That is really sad, especially since they have two children together, but Nora will now be able to be baptized on the 22nd. It makes me glad that she´ll be able to have salvation and eternal life with her family, but it is sad that the family is without a family figure in the home.

Then, we are teaching Patricia, the neighbor of the Mendez family. She too came to church yesterday. And so did their two step sisters, Estefanía and Yenny (the y and ll sound like a sh sound in Castellano). They are 8 year old twins and are quite inteligent. But we are uncertain if these kids will get parental permission to be baptized. Then, we recieved Mariana as a referal. She is the best friend of Rocío. And we taught the whole family and they are really good. I love how all the children have dreams for a better future. One wants to be a lawyer, another and architect, and I believe they are graduating early from high school. The mom especially felt the spirit in the lesson.

So, that is what is happening in Moreno 2. I hope to be able to tell you great things the next week.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 8, 2009

La Misionera

2 Nov 2009

Dear family,

I´m sorry that last week I wasn´t able to send a good letter. I hope that all goes well with this letter, but it might take a while to write because the s and the e keys don´t work very well.

To answer the question about the experience of my companion, this is what happened. After personal study, we began our companionship study with a hymn and a prayer. After I prayed, Elder Runolfson stayed on his knees. He was crying. So, I let him stay there for a bit longer. He said, “Elder Ranquist. I just want to thank you for your testimony. I´ve been looking for that change of heart that is spoken of in Mosiah.” He felt the love of Christ. During that companionship study, I pulled out “The small plates of Drake Ranquist” (my spiritual journal) and read to him the process of gaining my testimony. It was probably my best companionship study that I have had. We then fasted that day to help retain that testimony.

This past week was a really hot and then a really rainy week. On friday, I had divisions with the zone leaders and they showed me how they are doing 40 lessons per week and finding so many new investigators. It was a really good day. But with the heavy rain on Sunday, none of our investigators wanted or could come. The was an attendence of 25 members at church. Sometimes we missionaries think that the Lord show his faithful by sending rain. And it gave me joy to see Gastón, Rocío, and Romina come from far away through all of the mud. That touched a lot of the members in attendence. It also gave me joy to hear the testimony of Lourdes. Those four are so humble and pure of heart.

Talking about them, Rocío has become quite the missionary. Two weeks ago, they went to a Kiosco on sunday morning and there was a 12 year old girl there named Patricia with her 9 year old brother Richard. Rocío invited them to go with them. They asked, “Where?” “To church.” “Ok, I´ll ask my Mom.” And they came, even before knowing Rocío´s name. So, we are now teaching that family. There was another time that we went to their house and found that their step-sisters were there and taught them. They also have handed out a few copies of the first pamphlet and inviting everyone. Rocío can´t wait until she can go on a mission in 5 years.

I hope that the rest of your week goes well. I would love to see and be apart of the play. I´ll be praying for you all.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Disculpen que esta cortala carta

26 Oct 2009

Dear family,

Sorry, I can´t write much because I´ve already used up my hour and I lost my entire message. But this is an outline of what my letter was about.

I sent the photos of the baptism of Rocío, Gastón, and Romina. And a photo of the miracle that ¡Tengo uñas! ¡I have fingernails! I stopped eating my fingernails and cracking my knuckles as much.

We aren´t having too much success with the kids that came to church because their mothers are avoiding us and don´t give their permission for them to be baptized.

But Rocío, Gastón, and Romina found Patricia to bring to church last week and we taught her whole family.

My companion, E´Runolfson, received a greater testimony.

And my love,
Elder Drake Ranquist