Monday, August 9, 2010

He's Home!

pictures to be added soon...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Termino con un Bautismo!

26 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

It is quite difficult to write now and the reason is obvious. So, I´ll just start talking about my week.

We had a miracle! Yesterday María Elena Román was baptized! As I explained last week, she wanted to get baptized for so long. She wanted her son to be baptized when he was 8 but his father wouldn´t give permission. He is now 32. Her parents were sealed in the temple with her brothers, but she was left out. She wants to be apart of that eternal family so much. I still remember our first visit, when I went with Elder Riggins. I knew of the problem, but through prayer, I received from the Lord that I could promise her that if she got baptized, her family would change. She changed during that lesson and decided she would get baptized, but when, she wasn´t sure. Only the spirit of the Lord could have made such a change within her.

She decided last week. Because of the difficulty with her husband, we had to receive permission from many people. First off, we prayed as a group and I felt strongly that we should give according to her desires. The scriptures of 3 Nephi of Christ having compassion on the Nephites ran through my mind. So, I decided in that moment to push for her baptism. At first, the bishop was against it (just as I was at first), but his counselor had an interview with her. Thursday afternoon, while having lunch at the offices during a training meeting, I received one of the calls that missionaries love. The Bishop said, "Elder, I just want to inform you that you´ll have a baptism this Sunday. My counselor says that you felt right, we shouldn´t withhold a baptism from her." In that moment, I got up and talked with the President because he was there. He gave his permission after receiving approval from the Bishop. But that wasn´t it, we had the interview with the zone leaders and then needed another interview with one of the counselors of the Mission President. But the counselor didn´t know where the church in San Justo was. So, we had to go with María Elena to Ramos Mejía. It was all quite hectic.

The baptism was quite lovely. She has a lot of family members who are church members here in Buenos Aires. A ton came to support her. It was great to see so much support for her faith and for her valiance. I don´t think I´ve ever seen such an example as her. And she gave me the honor of baptizing her. During the week, she was talking about her brother-in-law and I asked, "He´s going to baptize you, right?" She answered, "No, you Elder!" I was thinking "No! I want a member to do it!" But I responded that it would be an honor. And it was a really great honor to participate in such a way. So, Mom and Dad, you will have the opportunity to see the confirmation of her next Sunday in Sacrament Meeting.

So, about next week. I will show up at the airport at about 8 o´clock Sunday morning to accompany you to the church in San Justo. We will be in the car with you. I hope I´ll be able to guide you well, but I´m not afraid of asking for directions any more if we get lost. That night we (as in Elder Berglund and I) were thinking we might stay with you in the hotel. We might have to decide that on Sunday, but that might be the best. And Dad, there are a mixture of electical outlets, but I think I have all of the tranformers and adaptors, but if not, we can always go buy one here for about 5 pesos. They use the two round ones, or the plug that looks like a back slash with a front slash (this keyboard doesn´t let me use them both). Monday morning, we will have transfer meeting. It will last all morning. And there you will meet President Benton. You will hear his talk about the next transfer, I´ll probably play the piano, the transfers, and the testimonies of us who are leaving. We might be invited to the mission home afterwards or another day to get to know President and Sister Benton. The rest, I haven´t planned and I´m sorry, I won´t have much time to plan it out.

So, to end, I have absolutely loved my mission. I have been overviewing my mission quite a lot and I am so grateful for the tender mercies the Lord has given me throughout. He truely loves us. And this is truely his work. I realized that probably the only regret I have is not doing all the contacts, but I feel I worked hard, was obedient, and was a worthy servant throughout my mission. I feel I´ve fulfilled my purpose here. I have loved my companions and have never caused problems with them. I tried my best not to impede the hand of the Lord to God´s children. I have learned a ton and I know that He has a lot more to teach me. He is the Lord. This is the Church. And through the saving ordinances and endurance and obedience to the end, we truely can be with our families forever. I await that day to be with you all in the Celestial Kingdom.

With my love until I see you,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparaciones demasiado trunky

19 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

You´re right that now I am facing really mixed feelings. Every day the weight fall stronger onto my concious the fact that I´m going to have to leave the mission behind. Part of me is excited to experience the new adventures of going back to school and life as a return missionary. But for the most part, I want to keep serving the Lord as I am. I have seen so many of the tender mercies of the Lord that it pains me that I will have to accustom myself that they be fewer and farther between. I want to keep seeing the triumphs of the families here and help them in their trials. I love trying to do good things constantly. I´ll sincerely miss it. But I can´t wait to see you.

One of the strange things that has happened in my mission is the way that I´ve grown. I feel I´m a lot better person and I´m much better prepared to face life. But I don´t feel like I reached my potential as a missionary. Actually, I feel farther away from my potential than when I started because my vision has changed. But yet, I still face the same weaknesses. I realize that is what will make me stronger in my life, having to constantly fight those weaknesses and not having them magically taken away by the Lord. Another way I´ve grown is physically. When I got here, everyone thought I was 16-17 years old. Now they think that I´m 23-25 years old. So much stress tones the face a little more (but it might also be due to the way I act and the improvement in my language abilities). I feel that my personal progress will be a lot slower after the mission and I´ve always liked being on the fast track in learning.

In preparation to go home, I´m going to have to start being truely "trunky" and start packing my bags because next P-day will be our zone activity. I´m going to have to decide what to take home and what to throw out and what to give away. A lot of my clothes aren´t really worth keeping (the shirts are going yellow, holes in all of the shoes including the tennis shoes, my black suit coat got ruined with the rain a while back, socks, etc.). I´m planning on bringing the iHome back, but E´Cuberos asked if I could leave him the iPod full of the tabernacle choir. I´m thinking about leaving it with him with the commitment that he give it to another missionary when he goes (so that it can stay among the missionaries). What do you think about that? And is there anything specific that you know you sent me with that you want me to keep and bring home? And when you come out, it would be nice if you brought an extra empty suitcase to be able to use.

So about the day you come here. I had interviews with the mission President this past week (which was especially trunky as he talked about dating techniques to be able to find my future wife and that I need to do something at least twice a week to find her) and he asked me if I were planning to pick you up. I had thought that the mission offices were going, but maybe I´ll come to the airport. That is yet to be determined. Depends if we have to look for many investigators or not too. But I think that I´ll be coming to help you find the church and get around. I´m not sure if it would be better to rent a car at the airport that day or not because we could take a Remis to church and they´d know their way and we´d get there in 30 min. If we rent a car, I´m not sure exactly how to get to our ward (but I have a map that I could possibly figure out). By doing that, we will be able to visit some converts in Moreno that are only home on Sunday using the rental car. That day, I´m not sure if I´ll go to the hotel with you to sleep or if I´ll stay with my companion. I think it is our decision.

Also, for the other days, I was basically planning on using most of the time to visit all of the converts. I think that would take up all of our time and we might not even have enough time to do that. My last week I´ll go to see the capital and I´m not sure how much touring we will have time to do, but we can try if there is something in particular that you want to see. Tell me about your ideas. But I want to use most of the time trying to strengthen the converts. And one night the mission president suggested that we need to go out into the country to see the stars at night. I hadn´t thought about it but I need to see the southern sky. And if there is anything else that you want, let me know. I´ll try to be the best and fastest translator that I can be, but I can´t promise to provide the best services.

This week we are faced with a difficult decision. María Elena, the sister of a member who came from Paraguay, has been wanting to be baptized for years, but her husband is completely against the idea and always threatens her with a divorce if she gets baptized. Throughout the years, she has suffered many things due to him (causing her to attempt suicide twice in the past). Her greatest desire is to be able to be baptized so that she can be sealed to her parents (who were faithful members that were sealed) and her sister. On sunday, she called her husband saying that she was willing to face the possible consecuences to be able to be baptized. I´ve never seen anyone have so much faith, courage, and desire. So, we will have to make the decision with the Bishop and the Mission President if we allow her to be baptized or not. But I sincerely feel, through prayer, that this decision will unify her family more, even if not at first.

I love this work, I love the Lord, I love the people, I love life, I love you all, and I know it to all be true.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Empujando La Piedra

12 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

¿Puedo hablar en español con ustedes? No, I´m not that inept at speaking English now, but this week we did find a lady from California who wanted us to speak in English with her and it was really difficult for me. It was just as difficult for her because she´s been here for 20 years. It was weird talking with her in that I´ve come to love many parts of the Argentine culture that when so much of the Californian gestures and culture came from her, it made me a little uncomfortable.

I´m glad that you got through this past week well. This past week had a few highlights in our week too. 9 de Julio (July 9th) was the independence day of Argentina and there was a fairly good activity that the ward hosted. There were some games, an explanation of the independence, and a demonstration of a folkloric dance by the youth. Then there were empanadas and choripan (a sausage sandwich that is really good, but full of fats and grease). But the highlight was when a professional folklore singer came (I think he was from one of the neighboring wards). He made me want to learn to sing like that. And an interesting thing was that I was able to understand the words to the Mexican song "Cealita Linda" (I don´t remember it well right now, so I don´t know the name exactly).

The other highlight was a step of courage that we made. After the visit of Elder Aidukaitis, President Benton started doing contacts in the buses when with the zone leaders. I decided that I wanted to try one with Elder Berglund. The first few times that we decided to do it, when we got on the bus and saw so many people, we chickened out. But, on Tuesday, after zone conference, we got on and I started saying loudly to everyone, "Brothers and Sisters, if we could have your attention please. We want to sing a hymn from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While we sing, imagine your own children singing this song to you." And then we sang the first verse of "I´m a Child of God." And then we talked with every person individually. It took a lot of guts, but we were able to do it. It helped me feel that I had fulfilled part of my patriarchal blessing where it says, "I bless you that you will overcome your fears and inhibitions to declare loudly that the gospel has been restored, that there are living modern prophets, and that the priesthood is on the earth once more."

Thank you Dad for getting ahold of those "collection items" for Hmo. Guzman. I´m sure that he´ll be quite happy, even if it isn´t in pristine condition. But, this week he also asked another thing. He wants a biography of Davy Crockett in Spanish. He loves to learn about whatever.

And I hope you recover well Mom. I await your coming, but I don´t want you to do anything that would perjudicate (is that the English translation of perjudicar? Maybe jeopardize is the right translation) your health. So just keep getting better and I´ll pray for you.

This sunday was ward conference (the first since they were a branch). I loved it and one of the stories that the Bishop told really helped me. "There was a man that was praying and his room filled with light and Jesus Christ appeared to him, saying `I have a great work for you to do. There is a rock outside that you need to push with all your heart, might, and strength.´ So, the next day the man went out and started pushing this rock as hard as he could all day long. He finished the day tired and weak and retired the next day. He went out and pushed with all his might the next day. And thus he did for a full year. Then he started thinking, `I´m not getting anywhere with this.´ That night Satan took advantage and came and said, `You´re a failure. You haven´t even so much as pushed that rock one millimeter. It isn´t worth the effort. You should just give up.´ Even more discouraged the man decided that he would go to Christ, explain how he had failed and that he wouldn´t do it any more. The next day Christ appeared and consoled him, `My brother, I never once asked you to move the rock. Look at your strong back, your toned muscles, your tanned skin. You have been faithful to me in pushing the rock and done as I´ve asked. I will now move the rock.´" I´ve kind of felt that we have´nt gotten anywhere with the investigators for the past month. That help me realize that even though the rock isn´t moving, I should keep pushing. And I know it is worth it.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dios tiene un sentido de humor

5 Jul 2010

Dear Family,

Mom, don´t worry if you think that your letter was a bit silly because this past week, we felt that God taught us again that He too has a sense of humor. It happened yesterday on the 4th of July. We were so happy that we had a surprise investigator at church. We had gone in search of all of the people that said they´d come with us and none of them answered or were there. We got back slightly discouraged. But, as we were in Gospel Principles, the second counselor called us out and an investigator had arrived. We had had hope in him a while back, but we could never find him and he always said he´d come to church, but never did. So, we had basically given up on him and hadn´t taught him in a while. So we were happy to see him. The funny thing about him arriving on the 4th of July is that his name is Americo.

Saturday was a difficult day for Argentina because it was the day they got eliminated from the World Cup. They had so much hope that they might win, but they were beat by Germany 4-0. That morning we had received permission to go see the game if we did so in the house of an investigator and we ate lunch with them. We wanted to see it, but we decided to stay in the pench to get several things done and to go to lunch with the member we had planned. In a way, I´m glad that I didn´t see them lose that way. We were afraid we were going to have some problems during the day because everyone was mad at Germany and we look and talk like Germans, but we didn´t have too many. Only a few people yelling at us from across the street. We were careful anyways.

Another reason why it was important that we decided to go to lunch with Hermana Zelarayan was for a little small miracle that we had at the end. The mission had a program a while back to be able to receive referrals where we write down 100 names that the person knows and then they pray and select one or two to take action to visit with us and invite. Well, Elder Aidukaitis (he´s still in all of our minds) showed us a better way. We make a list of all of the names of the people we can (not worrying about where they live for the moment) and then all of those become referrals. 100 referrals in 30 min. We leave the sheet in our area book and future missionaries can over time ask for the addresses and go visit them or send them to other areas.

So, we decided to make the big list with Hma. Zelarayan and her son Adrian Aguilera. We started talking about their family members and they talked about some that lived far away in Mar de Plata. We took down their names anyways. And as we continued with the list, the door bell rang. The very family of whom we were talking about walked in! Adrian hadn´t seen her cousin in 14 years! They had no clue that Hma. Zelarayan and Adrian were members (they were baptized within the past 3 years). So, we taught about the restoration and her sister-in-law really liked it. It truely was a miracle and we hope that we can get the address soon so that the missionaries can go by out there. And we decided to that we´ll finish the list with them another day.

Oh, and a member here, Hmo. Guzman wants us to ask you something. He collects coins and money from different places. And he wants two things. First of all, a new 5 dollar bill. Any old (well new) crisp five dollar bill. And the other thing he wants is a silver dollar. I´m not sure if they make those. I know they have the silver half-dollar, but he already has that. He want a silver (not gold) coin with the value of one dollar. He says that there is probably a silver commemoration dollar. If there is one from 1976, he´d absolutely love that. So, I don´t know if you can find it for him or not (maybe on ebay or something). He said he is willing to pay the amount it costs for it. So, that is his request.

We have been spending a lot more time recently with Hmo. Guzman, which is a good thing and a bad thing. He is the 2nd counselor in the Elders Quorum he is really excited about that. He is a convert from 3 years back and he works in the government and used to be in the Air Force officer. So he loves organizations and things like that. He loves reporting about the visits that he does and he was received the assignment of working with the missionary work of the quorum. We are trying to take advantage of this exhuberance the best we can to contact all of his friends and to do visits with him. And we were able to find a good family to teach through one such visit yesterday. But, one of my problems is that he talks a lot about things that really interest me. He knows a lot about missiles, space, Air Force, history, and a little bit about everything. I really haven´t known anyone like that her in Argentina. Everytime we try to leave the house he says, "I have something I want to show you." I admit that I´ve probably wasted too much of my time with him. I´d really enjoy my time with him after my mission when I can use it a little more leisurely.

I know that this work is true and I am going to push myself to the limits these last few weeks. I know that we can see miracles as we move forward into the unknown with faith.

With Love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Los Partidos de Futbol

Dear Family,

Thank you for the nice letters that you sent me for my birthday. I enjoyed them as I ate breakfast. I also saved the Gardetto´s to open up that day too. So, thank you for all of your thoughts and well wishes.

This week was full of its ups and downs. One of the things that gives us hope is that on Monday, we found a lady named Eugenia. She is the daughter of an inactive member and the neice of another with whom the ward is working. She is a bucket full of problems, but the gospel is helping her a lot. She was separated from her husband about 8 months ago and has had a ton of governmental problems with regards to her children. Right now, her two kids live one day in the house of the Dad and the next day with their Mom. With all the problems, Eugenia lost 20 kilos (50 lbs. I think) within 2 months and had a 14 day stretch without sleeping.

So, basically, when we got there she really needed someone to just listen to her. I´ve learned that I can calmly and patiently listen to someone´s problems, but that isn´t always what we want as missionaries because we are always running against the clock. The next time we went, we had a member to accompany us and she prayed at the end of the lesson and she said that she felt like something entered into her. She felt peace and aliviated (I couldn´t remember how to say "Ella sintió una paz y un alivio" in english).

In the next visit, we decided we wanted to do something fun for her and her children. She said that she hadn´t smiled in about 2 years, so we decided "We´re going to make them all laugh and smile" (while teaching an important lesson of course). So, we did what we call in the mission "Señor Huevo" (Mr. Egg). Where we have a hard egg that we want to put in a bottle. So he needs faith in Jesus Christ (so he gets on top), repentence (he falls and cracks and we take off the shell), baptism (we put the egg in water), and the Holy Ghost or baptism by fire. To do "baptism by fire" we do the physics trick or putting alcohol in the bottle, a match, there is a flame that reduces the pressure within the bottle, we put the egg on top, and the bottle sucks it in. It was really fun and they really enjoyed it. She smiled and laughed.

But, there was a problem with the dad the next day because he didn´t react well when his excited children told him that we "baptized eggs with fire." He already thought incorrect things about "the Mormons" and now probably thinks that we are doing some kind of witchcraft. But, Eugenia is getting better and we are going to keep helping her. We´ll see what this next week brings for her.

This past month, the entire nation has been into the World Cup. It is crazy here. The Soccer World Cup, which happens every four years, is 5 times bigger here than the Super Bowl. When the game starts, you her a bunch of fire works. And everything is deserted. There aren´t any open businesses because everyone is inside watching. And trying to preach during a game is worse than trying to preach during the siesta. Not even the strongest members would listen to us (ok, I´m not sure if they would or not, but it is very probable that they wouldn´t). Every time there is a goal for Argentina, there are more fireworks and everyone runs outside to blast horns and make noises with pots and pans. And when Argentina wins, a lot more fireworks and noise. A lot of people get in their cars and drive around honking their horns. It is really quite exciting and I´d like to participate in watching with them (which is something coming from me to say that I want to watch a soccer game). But, we go back to our pench for more study time. Last tuesday we had our district meeting in the afternoon instead of the morning. When we tried to get back to San Justo, the game had just ended and a bunch of high school students had flooded a major road blocking traffic. Argentina has won the past 4 games and I think they´ve now made it to the final four. The next game is Saturday. So, we´ll see if Argentina comes out champions.

My birthday went well because we did divisions with the young men to go visit some investigators. And in the evening there was a ward activity that our ward mission leader put together. It wasn´t nearly as successful as the last activity and I´m afraid it scared off one of our investigators that was present, but it was alright. At the end, when the members found out that it was my birthday, they put a candle on the cake brought for refreshments and sang "Que lo cumple feliz" and "Happy Birthday."

And Yesterday, Alejandro, the Dad of a recent convert finally came to church. He has become more and more interested in the gospel as we have taught him the past month. He only stayed for priesthood meeting because he had to go do something at 11 (I think he had to go watch Germany play England in soccer), but he wouldn´t tell us what. And he said he wanted come next week with more time.

I know the Lord blesses us daily and that we have hundreds if not and infinite amount of things to be grateful for. I know that he will keep blessing our family through our trials and tribulations. (I´ll admit that some of the problems you have gone through has helped me teach others with more power about how to face difficulties in life). I love you and keep praying for you.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Feliz Dia del Padre!

21 Jun 2010

Dear Family,

Happy Father´s Day Dad!!! I love you, Mom, and the rest of the family so much. Mom said that she felt bad that she couldn´t "pamper" you on your day, but I have learned that spending such a day serving her can make it a much more happy and memorable day. Thank you for the example you give us, your children, and the care you give to our Mom. I hope your day went well and that happiness and joy can keep entering into our family.

Mom, I hope that you can keep getting better. This past year has really taught our family that this body is fragile and that life is passing. But gives us even more appreciation for the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He died and was resurrected for us so that we might one day rise again. How much greater joy will you have for passing these trials faithfully, submissively, and happily! I will keep you and the entire family in my prayers.

And thank you very much for my birthday package. I am very grateful. I have to inform you that the Prego Sauce broke open inside, causing problems with it all, but I got it well. I normally wait until my birthday to open it, but it got to me already open. So, I started enjoying the trail mix immediately, but I have not yet opened the cards. I also took out the blue tie and started using it, but I left the brown one in the ziploc bag. A week later, I looked at it again and there was mold all over it. Apparently some of the sauce got inside that too. So, I´m really glad I took out the blue one when I did! And thank you for the snickers too. And my companion is very grateful too (and I also enjoy the packages he receives).

I felt quite strange today. We had transfer meeting and I am now officially a "pastor." Elder Gilmore and Elder Sabey return home today. So, I´ll see them again in BYU afterwards. And so do a lot of other missionaries with whom I´ve worked. There are also a lot of changes in the mission, like always, but I stay with Elder Berglund in San Justo. There was a surprise with the Elders in my district. Elder Mather and Elder Barrios (two of the best newer missionaries I´ve seen. During divisions with them, I truely felt that they were teaching me.) were both transfered. I didn´t think that would happen. And Elder Fuentealba and Elder Hobson are training. So, I´ll use the end of my mission to help them train their new companions so that these new missionaries can grow with the new visions for the mission. Another interesting thing is that Elder Chamberlain, who was in my MTC district, is the new Assistant to the President. He only has the next 8 weeks (he´s extended 2 weeks) to be the Assistant (one transfer). That was very interesting. Probably to let the next Elder that the President has in mind to have another transfer as zone leader and have the necessary experience (I think Elder Brooks who started in Castillo 2 when I was with Elder Rivas). Yeah, the mission has become my life and I love it. I´m also enjoying a lot more than I used to being District Leader. It is a lot of work and effort and at the end I will have fulfilled that assignment for a third of my mission, but it really has taught me to serve and love the other Elders. Every time I see Elders that were in my past districts, as with my past companions, I feel a love for them and a desire to be with them again. I´m glad I could have helped each one of them. And I´m happy to keep doing it.

Yesterday was a day that was kind of hard for me. Being Father´s day, a lot of people went on visits. So, we didn´t have any investigators in Sacrament meeting. When Elder Aidukaitis came, he said "Rule Number 1: A missionary does not assist sacrament meeting without and investigator. Rule Number 2: A missionary doesn´t fault sacrament meeting." So, we broke rule number 1 (not rule number 2). We could have worked harder during the week to have one. We did leave during the first two hours to invite everyone we could to enter the church to learn about it, but no one entered. But, instead of let me get it down, it means that I´ll work even harder so that it doesn´t happen to us again. To make this the best transfer I will have. To prepare this mission to baptize every week.

I love the Lord and I love you all. This is the work of the Lord and when we forget ourselves, God gives us strength even when we are tired and stressed. He gives us the relief of happiness and joy. He will be with our family so that our faithful service, which we will do all of our life, will prepare us for life eternal. I know He is there for us always.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, June 20, 2010

La Entrevista Trunky

14 Jun 2010

Dear Family,

I´m glad that the week went well for you guys and congragulations in finding a job Jonathan! It isn´t nearly as easy as I thought it was. When I first went looking for a job, I had the idea that I could just walk in the place where I wanted to work and that I would be hired there. It doesn´t quite work that way. And it was a good thing that you said a prayer. There have been several times on my mission that we taught our investigator to pray to find a job and they would find one (but the sad part is that many times we didn´t teach them about the sabbath day soon enough and found a job where they work every sunday and can´t go to church).

Yesterday, we had our interviews with the President. This was one of the more "trunky" interviews because from now I have to start thinking about several things for after the mission. I have to set a bunch of goals. I´ve been avoiding thinking too much about the future, but I think that now is the moment when I need to give a bit more attention to that business. But, I´m not going to let it interfere with my work.

I have to think and set goals about 4 things in particular. What am I going to do, specifically, over this next year so that I can just start life shooting off? What are my goals and dreams for my life? What are some attributes I want my future wife to have? And how am I going to maintain this same level of spirituality? They are very important questions that will take some thought. I already have a lot of the answers (and on many of them I can just quote my patriarcal blessing). I want to put into practice a lot of thins that we do here on the mission. I´ll probably be made fun o for that, but I think the idea of excercising, studying, planning daily and weekly, adequate sleep, and other things could really help me in my life. So, I´ll have to think how to apply those things in daily life. And probably the thing I most dread about going home is getting back into the dating pool. I´m excited to get back to studying and learning and working and serving in the church, but I don´t really want to go courting. Hopefully that desire will return when I get back home. For the moment I think it is alright that I don´t have that desire. But I´ll do what the Lord desires me to do, even in that regard.

The president also said that I should be studying spanish well enough to be able to take a test when I get back to school and take the class Spanish 321. He says I can get a lot of college credits doing that (up to 16), but I´m not really worried about the credits (I already have all of the elective credits I need). But maybe it would be good to change one of my classes to study more spanish. I have a good a grasp of the language, but I want to be able to have the ability to give scientific forums and workshops in spanish in the future. I don´t know if there are some upper-level classes to help me with that or not. So, maybe I´ll drop one of my 3-4 credit classes (maybe the Science and Civilizations class and I can do that later on) to take that Spanish class as the President says. I think I´ll worry abotu that when I get back home too.

This next week we have transfers, so I had my companion (because there wasn´t time in my interview to ask) ask if he thinks we´ll be together or not next transfer. I wanted to know if I´d have more time to help out my companion or if I needed to get him to know the area really well to prepare for a new companion. Usually the President will tell us what will probably happen. After the interview he pulled me in with my companion to ask if my thoughts were and I told him what my thoughts were. He told me that he wasn´t sure, which kind of surprised me because he usually has in mind what will happen. But I feel that I will stay here. My companion still needs me a lot. He´s great, but I´m not sure he´s quite ready for the shock of having a new companion and having to teach him the area. It is very common for the missionaries coming to this area to get very discouraged at the beginning, especially when you come here to be an "uncle." So, I feel that for this last transfer, the Lord needs me here with my companion. I´ve always had thoughts and dreams of finishing my mission as a zone leader or opening an area and training at the same time or doing something like that, but I think the most important thing for me is to "take care of this little plot of land" (as the poem you sent me a while back said Dad).

Another reason why I think I need to be here is because of something that happened yesterday. I don´t know if I wrote about José Cosentino a few months ago. He was a member that had several mental problems and we started teaching his wife. But we felt that she lost control of him when we would go because he would start talking about how they need to be more spiritual and we decided not to go back for a while. This morning we found his wife in the supermarket and she said that José had commited suicide yesterday. I know it wasn´t coincidence that we found her today, for the first time in 2 months. She had received a lot of help from the Bishop yesterday and we were there to help console her. There isn´t much we can do for the moment, but I feel that I will stay here to do some good for that family. I just hope that her son takes this well. Her son has a few mental problems as well and I don´t know what this shock will do to him. I am so glad that we have the knowledge of the gospel for such moments.

This week was a bit tough in that I felt that my energy level was falling again, but I am determined to give my all in this work until the end of my mission, until the end of my life, and afterwards. As President Eyering states, we shouldn´t ever feel that we deserve a rest from gospel service. When our body begs for a rest, we should remember the example of the Savior and we will find strength. And we will have perfect bodies one day that won´t impede us from giving our all contantly. I love him for that and I feel joy in his service--for what I have done, for what I do, and for what I yet have to do. I love you all and hope the best.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bautismo de Elsa Cruz

7 Jun 2010

Dear Family,

This was quite a week. I´ll start with the most important. This saturday we were able to participate in the baptism of Elsa Cruz, the mom of Celeste Soria (who was baptized a little more than a month ago). Elsa was really happy to do so. Her decision really began when she came to the baptism of Celeste (getting people to baptisms is the best way to prepare them). We had also helped her family with moving all of the soda inside as an act of service and I believe that helped to soften her heart too. So, she accepted to start listening to us afterwards. The second lesson with her is especially memorable. I think I explained it to you before, but maybe I`ll do it again. She has a 14 year old daughter named Romina who, when she was a kid, had a sickness that caused her to go deaf and mute (she can hear really loud sounds and make noises, but not well enough to listen and talk). 2 years ago Elsa signed up for a government program to get her hearing aids, but a while ago they said that her papers had expired and that she wouldn´t receive them. She got upset saying, "It isn`t my fault that they went out of date, they were sitting there in your office for the past two years. You have the blame." While we were teaching her about the Book of Mormon, she received a phone call with a miracle on the other end. They told her to bring Romina in to have some tests to receive the hearing aids. We had the opportunity in that moment to explain that this occurance was due to the prayers that she has made and that God always listens to our prayers. She kept fulfilling all of her commitments (even if she didn´t understand much of what she read) to the point that she read the entire book of Gospel Principles before she was baptized. She stopped going to the casino, stopped drinking tea, and stopped working on sunday (after church) easily once she learned the commantments. But, she kept saying that she wasn´t sure if God could forgive her for some of her sins. After a joyful interview with President Benton, she was found worthy and learned for herself that God can forgive the sinner who repents.

The baptismal service was excelent. There was a good turnout (the members here are very supportive) and all was prepared well. Celeste gave an excellent talk about baptism for her mom (we helped Celeste learn how to find a good scripture to use). Celeste was really happy because she has the desire that her entire family can receive the gospel and she said in her talk, "I never imagined that it would happen so fast!" I was asked to do the baptism and it was an honor. Elsa, even though she didn´t want to, consented to give her testimony and explain why she decided to get baptized. It turned out really well. Faithful service really does bring joy.

This week, Elder Aidukaitis also came. And Wow. He sure did help us raise the bar and raise our faith. First off, he let us know that we should be baptizing on a weekly basis and in a work of miracles and with faith that it is completely possible. And I do really feel that it is possible to work with faith to be able to baptize every week. He is an expert missionary who gave us a ton of great insights of tactics we could use to improve things or basically bringing to our attention things written in Preach My Gospel that we could do better to receive miraculous results. I know that God fulfills his promises and that the field is white already to harvest. This mission has improved a lot. During my time here, we have basically doubled the baptisms. Elder Aidukaitis let us know that "El Señor está feliz con su trabajo, pero no está sastifecho. El quiere más." (The Lord is happy with your work, but he is not sastified (a spanish word that also means full as from eating). He wants more.) This mission is going to continue seeing great miracles.

With that energy and faith from that conference, I started looking for who would be able to be baptized this next saturday. Hma. Farías came to church with her sister from Paraguay, named María Elena. She already knows everything and has a testimony, but hasn´t ever gotten baptized due to opposition from her family. I felt that it is her time to be baptized and that, through prayer and fasting, that her family would be softened. She has harbored the fear that if she gets baptized, her family will reject and exile her. But, through a powerful lesson guided by the spirit (and a bit of help from Elder Riggins, my zone leader who was with me during divisions), she could increase her faith and trust in the Lord to do His part. Her sister, Hma. Farías (a really good, strong, active and faithful member) gave a really good testimony about how "sometimes you just have to be a bit more Kamakaze." María Elena desires now to get baptized soon, but she wants to do it in Paraguay so that her family doesn´t feel that she escaped to Buenos Aires to be baptized. I agree with her. And I feel that her baptism will be the key to open the locked hearts of her family. I can´t do too much more for her now, but I await to hear the good news when she heads home.

The work continues forth, but during the week I read some of the articles in the new Liahona. I absolutely loved the talk by Elder Bednar that he gave in a devotional at BYU a year ago (in may of 2009) about the dangers of technology and how it can make us lose sight of "things how they really are." I hope to really improve on not wasting time chatting online and doing other such things on the computer so that I can focus on real relationships with people. I know that will bring me great happiness throughout my life, especially in my later years when I see that the friends I have made are real friends and not just there for entertainment.

I know this work is true and that God leads our leaders. If we follow, we will see great miracles in our lives and greater joy, peace, and happiness.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, June 6, 2010

La Felicidad

31 May 2010

Dear Family,

I feel kind of strange in that yesterday, I fulfilled 22 months on my mission. No, I´m not counting down. Actually, I wouldn´t care if I were asked to stay for another 2 year mission, but I know that the Lord has other plans for me in the future and things will just keep getting better. The strange thing is thinking that I only lack now the time that I spent in the MTC. That my companion Elder Berglund now has more time on the mission than I lack. But as I tell everyone, "I´m still young in the mission." I have hopes that these last two months will be my best two months.

Although the work isn´t progressing as fast as I might like it, I´ve learned to be patient and to give every moment to the Lord. I used to look for moments to rest and complain that I don´t have enough time to do anything, but I´ve now learned to give every moment I can and even when tired, those moments will be fruitful and provide happiness. We´re here to be happy and I am. I like being able to tell the people that living the gospel will make them happy. Ask them "Do you think we´re happy?" And they tell us that "Yeah, you do look happy." We don´t have to fake it. As long as we´re doing the best we can, we have the secret to happiness. And helping others be happy makes one more happy. Even if they have to struggle for a moment. And then we can be happy together, which is better than being happy alone.

I try to help Elder Berglund speak as much as he can during the lessons, but it still means that I have to do most of the talking. I´ve learned that I can pretty much give a 30 minute talk, by myself, about any gospel topic. And I have problems cutting back on what I want to say at times. Yesterday, we taught a recent convert and the active family that lives with her about geneology. This family really hadn´t done anything on their family history, so we taught them about it. Due to all of the stories that you have taught me Mom over the years, I could help them have a desire to do it and learn about their ancestors. I could talk about doctors, musicians, astrophysicists, and religious rebels who have made me who I am. And nearly any other topic I feel I can now give a talk full of scriptures, personal experiences, information, and testimony to complete it. My only problem is I need to learn how to make better questions. I´m inquisitive, but that doesn´t help me form questions that help others learn for themselves. I still need to work on that.

We are really excited for the baptism of Elsa Cruz, Celeste´s mom, this Saturday. She´s excited too. We always tell people to read and she read all of Gospel Principles. I´m not sure how much of the book she retained, but at least she read it. She really surprised me when she said she read the entire thing in 2-3 weeks. Now she needs to do the same with The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. (I learned that we really should say "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" every time we talk about the Book of Mormon, especially with non-members. But I understand if it is really long. That´s why most of the time we just say that we are from The Church of Jesus Christ. Also because a lot of times when they say "of Latter-day Saints" they get us mixed up by saying "of the seventh day" instead "of the last days" or in spanish "del séptimo día" en vez de "de los últimos días"). So, we are hoping that her entire family will be able to come and enjoy it.

I´d love to read that new book of Tony that you wrote about. But my problem will be that when I get back there will be so many books that I´ll want to read. I´ll want to read our entire bookshelf all at once. I want to read all of the gospel books written by the prophets and apostles (Miracle of Forgiveness, Articles of Faith, The Great Apostasy, The first several thousand years series, Doctrine of Salvation, Teachings of the Prophets, etc.), books about astrophysics (The universe in a nutshell by Steven Hawking, 5 ages of the universe, and other books on grandpa´s bookshelf), review past textbooks and new ones, and all other good books and literature. I guess I´ll have to pace myself somehow. I´m glad that during these 2 years, I could just focus on the scriptures and the doctrine I truely need for myself and for others. I still read really slow, but that is my decision. You asked about the speed reading course I took. It is possible that it has helped me in the moments that I want to speed read, but one has to take the concious decision to want to read faster. And I never took that decision. I went through the motions of the class (and I´m not really sure if the class did all that great of job of teaching), but without the desire to apply it to what I read. I like to think alot while I read, to analyze. I find reading a good moment to learn and not just pour information into my mind. That is why I read so slow. And by making the connections with what I already know to what I am reading, I learn a lot more and can remember it alot better. But there may come a time when I won´t have time to do so and speed reading will be necessary. It came in handy a bit on friday when I had to print something out and I didn´t have time to read it, so I sped read it and could take out all of the things I needed in 30 seconds. So, there is my feedback. And I look forward to being able to spend hours again reading (and playing the piano).

Tomorrow, we´re going to have the privledge to listen to Elder Aidukaitis of the Seventy. He wasn´t sure if he was going to be able to come, but he decided he can. So on quick notice, we are preparing everything. It should be a great experience. I love to listen to our leaders. They are truely men of faith and have the spirit of revelation, just as the Nephite leaders were chosen.

I know this work is true and it will roll forth until the earth is wrapped up as a scroll. I know everything we are taught to do brings us happiness, even geneological work. I know that as we do our best, we won´t have regrets and we avoid self-blame. And I know that the Lord makes up for all of our faults.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, May 30, 2010

25 de Mayo

24 May 2010

Dear Family,

It has been really difficult to find a cyber (a place to write on the computer) because today is a holiday here. Actually, the holiday is tomorrow, 25 de Mayo, the independence day of Argentina in 1809. So, tomorrow will be the bicentenial of Argentina. There will be a lot of celebrations in the capital. Here in San Justo, I don´t think that we´ll see too much. So, they decided to make monday a holiday also this year so that we have a four day weekend. So, nothing is open. But, at last, after an hour and a half or more of searching, we found one open in our area. And now we also see another reason. Canada and Argentina are playing right now in the soccer world cup right now.

This week was a fairly good week. We had the stake conference of Oeste this sunday and it went well. We were hoping a lot more investigators would go with us, but we were happy that at least Elsa, who has a baptismal date for the 5th of June made it with Celeste. I was glad that I had brought a notebook and my scripture marking crayons because they kept Candela, the active and always smiling child of Celeste quietly busy.

In the photos I sent, it shows us helping Elsa´s family enter all of the soda into the house to store. They are a soda distributor, so they receive it each tuesday or wednesday and then have to send it around the town throughout the week. So, we got a good workout doing that for an hour and a half. I liked it and so did my companion. Maybe we´ll do it again sometime. And I think it is helping us gain the confidence of the rest of their family too.

My companion is doing better this week. He felt he missed home a little less and sees how one can get into the work. But, he still kind of thinks, as I did at the beginning of the mission, that anyone who says they love missionary work and doesn´t to go home is lying. It takes a lot of patience helping learn Spanish. Did it take that much patience from you for me to learn English? But, he is improving little by little. He understands more of the people. And will learn it quickly. He also had his first experience working in the rain yesterday. We didn´t get absolutely soaked like has happened in the past, but we got wet. We enjoyed ourselves and he was surprised that he enjoyed it. So, things will go well.

I´m glad that you could undestand what Celeste wrote. I don´t really find spanish here too complicated because their vocabulary isn´t all too large. She was happy to find you and to write you. I hope that you´ll be able to understand everything when you come here. You´ll have to get used to listening to people speak in vos. It took me so long at the beginning of my mission to understand what "¿De dónde sos vos?" meant. And I love how we say the -y- or -ll- as a -sh-. Sho me shamo instead of yo me llamo. But I am sincerely greatful that the Lord has helped me learn the language well and that I´m completely fluent. I still have an accent and I´ll always have one (I don´t have the gift some missionaries have here to learn the accent so well that the people ask if they´re Argentine), but I´m fluent. And the double rr´s are so fun to say now. I can´t make it last a long time, but I can make it sound well.

And Dad, I´m glad that you´re making a Venture program for the older scouts. After I got my Eagle, I felt kind of left out as well among the scouts because there wasn´t anything to work towards. We had the palms, but they weren´t really important. They were thinking about doing a Venture program, but they never got it arranged. And the young men, as I´ve seen here, have a really hard time getting over the shock of entering elder´s quorum (but I think it is even worse for the young women when they enter relief society). But I can see how it would be difficult to set up too because I´m not sure if there are enough young men to do a ward venture program. I hope it goes well.

I feel like I´m starting to get tired again, but this time I´m just going to keep fighting and not give into the fatigue. I know the Lord supports us in our trials and difficulties. I know the Lord makes us happy, even in the rain. This really is a gospel of joy. We are a happy people. And I know that by giving our all to others, we receive joy in others, and ourselves. I know the Lord loves us and protects our family. We really do have a wonderful family.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, May 23, 2010

He's a Trainer!

17 May 2010

Dear Family,

I am glad to tell you that my "refuerzo" ("reinforcement" as we say in the mission, to avoid the use of son and dad, which are sacred callings) got here to Argentina well and is doing a very good job. His name is Elder Berglund and I sent some pictures, but I´m not sure it worked. I´ll have to try again another day I think. He is from Springville, UT and has a desire to work hard here on the mission. He misses home quite a bit, but with time and patience those feelings will change into a desire to serve and help them. He is quite a bit shorter than me, and as with all of my companions, much stronger. He liked wrestling, swimming, baseball, cars, daredevil stuff, and anything physical. He also liked math in school. We get along fairly well and he´s already working hard. He has a lot of difficulty with the language--a lot more than I did when I got here. In the MTC, he and his companion never taught in spanish, so I am helping him learn evertything that he didn´t in the MTC. It will come with time. He´s already improved in the past week. I try to speak as much spanish with him as I can to acustom his ear, but still has problems understanding a lot of the basic verbs (and all of the other complicated vocabulary that I´ve aquired). So, I often speak in spanish to see what he can understand, translate it to english what he didn´t understand, and then say it again in spanish to help him learn. It´s a slow process, but helps. The change in diet seems to be a bigger shock to him than it was for me too. I´ve always embraced exotic tastes, so coming here I didn´t have any problems. I loved the food. But he´s doing great. He´s already approaching people to do contacts so that we can do 140 each week. I have to finish each contact, but he starts half of them. I´m trying to teach him to be diligent with that so that it becomes a habit "like brushing your teeth" as the President told me in an interview.

I realize that he is probably my last companion that I´ll have. The mission goes by really fast and causes one to have a continual change on one´s perspective of life. Realizing that my time here is coming to a close, I feel that I´ve reflected how those that are getting to end of life feel. By training now, and not earlier, gives me the great desire to prepare the next generation of missionaries of the great Buenos Aires West mission. I feel it to be my duty and my joy to make them the best missionaries I can so that they can grow off of my example and experiences, so that they can one day be much better than me. In part, that helps me understand that great purpose of life. We have been sent, called, and we for ourselves have decided to come here to help others acheive their potential. I´m beginning to understand what it means to be a good leader. It is not just get along with those that are under your supervision, to make sure they don´t do anything bad, nor to push them to do more; it is to give yourself for them so that they can reach the plateaus that one couldn´t reach. Just as with Moses, we go ahead and show the example to guide them to the door that we could never go through, but they can. I´m starting to understand and feel that great lesson, "It is better to help another than to help oneself." "This is my work and my glory, to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man." I have so much ahead of me in my own personal progress, but I think I´m turning a key that was locked before.

Mom, you asked about how revelation has played a part in my mission. I´ve learned a lot about how revelation works here. It is a lot different than I thought before. I´ve learned that it really is simple and is a part of every day life. We receive inspiration constantly every day, we just don´t always attribute it to the Spirit. To me, revelation is anything that persuades to do good. It enters the mind and the heart. In more common language: it´s any good idea we have. It´s any idea that pushes us to do the right thing. What is the right thing? Whatever helps another. And you know anything that is taught in the gospel will help another. Our duty is to choose between many good ideas. That is part of the purpose of life, to choose the best between many good ideas. And we have our entire life to learn how to do it well. I have started to use a "revelation journal." I´ve learned that I forget everything. So, at night when I´m praying and I have a "good idea" I write it down to do the next day or when I can. It helps me. Usually with good ideas we feel good about it, which is the spirit saying that it is good. But when we shouldn´t do something that we are deciding to do, we get an uncomfortable feeling. It often happens when I´m planning and I feel we aren´t going to be able to do it in time. And when we do it, it goes wrong usually. Like dad said, he had an uncomfortable feeling. It is simple, but yet so true. It isn´t magical. Just simple feelings. Good and bad ideas. So, I hope that helps Mom.

I love you all and am so grateful for how you have pushed yourselves to make me the best I can be.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Dear Family,

I just talked with you, so I´ll use most of my time to send photos from San Justo. (Most of these are from Elder Jimenez´s camera that I copied because I don´t take all too many pictures).

It actually turned out perfect that I called twice for a few reasons. To complete the 840 contacts (our focus on the transfer), we had to finish our 20 for the day (20 contacts per day for 42 days = 840) and sundays are always harder. So, while we were walking back and forth from the chapel to the apartment to fix the problem, we were able to finish all of the contacts. And the other reason is that we went to a house right after talking with you and we got there at the perfect time. We got there when some relatives were there and we started to teach them. They didn´t want to accept what we taught too much thinking that we didn´t understand their problems and that we have it easy. But the member bore very good testimony of how the gospel changed her life, or at least gave her another perspective, and we could feel a very strong spirit afterwards. We didn´t want to leave the house for the spirit that was felt.

So, I´m not really too nervous about tomorrow because I know that the Lord will help me be a good trainer. I have improved a lot on my mission, so I feel like the Lord has prepared me for this moment: to prepare the next generation of missionaries here in Buenos Aires Oeste. I don´t think I would have been able to handle it before, but I think I might be able to now. I´ll find out. But, I commit myself to work as unwearingly as I can for the next three months.

I hope you like the photos.

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day!

3 Mayo 2010

Dear Family,

First off, I believe that I´ll make the phone call at about 4:00 PM according to the time here, if that is alright. That is not exact. My plans are to finish everything at church, eat lunch, and then study with my companion. After all of that is done I´ll call, so it will come between 3 and 5. But, if 7 is better for you, send me an email that has the subject title "Call at 7" before Thursday. I can´t read any letters on Thursday, but we have to enter our account to do the Progress Form, so I´ll see it. I can´t wait to speak with you all either.

We still aren´t seeing too many fruits in our work, but we don´t feel too bad because we are giving it our best. We´re getting fairly tired, but I think I´m finally learning how to overcome my "I don´t wanna do nothin´" mood. So, I feel at peace. We were also happy that we were able to help reactivate a member this past week. Her name is Marta, is an ex-missionary, smokes, and hasn´t gone to church in years. We went to visit another member and she was there. We taught lesson 3, about faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. She said that while we were teaching, my voice reminded her of Joseph Smith in an old film strip. She felt the spirit and decided that she was going to go back to church. And we helped her get there. I hope that gave her the needed push to help her get started and going. We could use her help because she has a connection with some investigators that have true potential.

Marta´s friend is also an inactive member, but not because she doesn´t want to go, but because she works in a bakery every Sunday morning. Recently, her niece came from Fermosa, Argentina. We taught her and she has good potential, but worked a Sunday (she still doesn´t have a regular work). She had to make an emergency run home and brought her daughter with her. We have hope that Catalina and her daughter will be able to progress and that Marta could help bring them to church.

This is that last week that I´ll be with Elder Jimenez. At first it was difficult with him, but I´ll miss him now. We have grown a lot together. We have learned to face our trials in unity and work to achieve our goals. I think these past 3 months in my mission have been the biggest growing moments in my mission. With his help, I have changed for the better. I hope that his mission will go really well. It is really possible that I will spend my last three months of my mission training a new missionary. I have not yet done so. I hope that what I have learned, he can learn much quicker than me.

I´m now going to send photos. We had our zone activity today and we ate meat for lunch. Here is an example of a typical Argentine grill (except the Shish-Kabob of Elder Mather who really knows how to cook). And my companion is cutting our meat. And then a few photos of me that my companion took before we started planning, just for Mom.

I know that this work will always roll forward, with or without us. But as we thrust in our sickle with our might, we may participate in the joy of this great work. It is necesary for our own salvation. So, I´ll talk with you Sunday!

Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, May 2, 2010

La Metas Del Estudio Personal

26 Apr 2010

Dear Family,

This was a good, standard week. There weren´t many problems yet there wasn´t much progress. After baptisms, we are often without many investigators to teach. We have begun to teach Celeste´s mom and she likes it, but the problem with most of our investigators right now is that they work on Sunday or they´re never home when they said they would be. But, we will move forth with constant patience, looking where the Lord sends us. I´ve felt that we should probably start knocking more doors (clapping more houses) to find new people. We don´t do that much here in our mission. We find new investigators through talking with people in the street and in their front lawn. But here in San Justo, there isn´t as much space for a front lawn and the people in the streets walk quickly and always say they are busy. We still find about 8 new investigators each week, but the mission standard is 15. I´ve always thought that knocking doors would be less effective, but I think we might try the experiment.

And yes Dad, we give the retention lessons, even though the ward should be in charge of that. I´ve never seen a ward do too much in the missionary work. This is the first time that I´ve had a ward missionary, but I wouldn´t say that he is the strongest member (a 32 yr. old kid living with his mom and always having teenage accidents). The retention lessons are a review of the missionary lessons and another that talks about priesthood, temples, family history, and missionary work. But, it is a lot and usually we don´t get through it all. But we try our best.

Mom, you asked me about a package for my birthday. I actually thought that my last package would be it. I really don´t think I need anything else. And instead of a gift for now, it would be better to wait until August to see what I really need. I can´t think of anything. And about the phone call, I really don´t know what time we would call. I don´t even know what day is mother´s day next month. They´ll tell me next transfer. And it depends on my next companion. But if I had to guess, I would say either 4 or at 7.

In our mission we have a pamphlet with a whole bunch of goals for personal study. They aren´t easy, but are possible to do during one´s mission. And if you complete it, you receive a pin that says "Brillo del Maestro." I´ve been working on that little by little during my entire mission, hoping to complete it. I see now that it is possible, but I have to focus a little bit more on that. It has goals such as make outlines for the lessons personally and with your companion (It took me forever to do my outlines because I wanted to study each lesson really well to know everything I would want in a lesson, with scriptures, questions, and experiences. It really helped me a lot). Memorize 2 scriptures for each principle in the lessons. And something that you have to show the president, like write a 3 page compendium about obedience or read a 60 page magazine about the temples and explain your personal vision about the temples.

The parts I´m working on now are read The Book of Mormon and write 2 pages about each book. I´ll finish Moroni 10 tomorrow. I´ve loved reading it and know that it is a true book. While reading, I´ve been looking for references to with the strength or power of the Lord or anything similar. I have learned quite a bit about the experiences of the prophets being completely faithful, loyal, and constant to the Lord and received such power of speech or to be delivered from their enemies. I know the promise of Elder Bednar is being fulfilled in that I can know better how to receive the strength of the Lord and not rely on my own strength. I am seeing that more and more this month as I´ve been more constant and diligent.

Another goal is under the title "The Challenging and Testifying Missionary." The part that I´ve been the most worried about is I have to do all my contacts for three entire transfers. I had never done that in a transfer. We always fell behind and got discouraged. But, for the first time, we are right on track! For four weeks straight we have done all of our contacts. So, it is still possible!

I still need to read the New Testament and write two pages for every book therein, pass a test in which you have to fill in missing words to exact quotes from Preach My Gospel, the outlines and scripture memorization for lesson 3, one more transfer in which we have at least 20 lessons every week (I´ve had two in my mission, the others always had at least one week with 18 or less). I was worried about that too this week because we just about didn´t make it. So, I am putting forth the effort to complete all of that.

I just about forgot, this past week we had interviews with the president. I too was found worthy for a new temple reccomend. He said a lot of good things that helped me. He really does have a lot more confindence in me than I have in myself. He also explained that these next three months, I need to learn and set goals to be the best leader I can because basically the minute I get off the plane I will be called as a leader in work and in the church. I have a lot of great leadership attributes, he said. But now is the time I need to grow in my leadership skills. I´ve always been scared of leading, but I´m starting to get a little more comfortable, but I still need all of the help the Lord can give me to help His children and His missionaries.

So, that was a different letter, but a big part of missionary life as well. I love you all and I love that you know what I know and will always follow this gospel. Their is strength in doing so.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Canta al Bautismo

Dear Family,

This has been a really good, yet hectic week, with a lot of adventures. I´ll start off with the highlights.

This past saturday, we had the opportunity to have the baptism of José Attino and Celeste Soria. It was one of the best baptisms I´ve seen in my mission because of all of the help from the ward, our planning, and the spirit. Elder Chamberlain (from the MTC) was in this area before me and he came for the baptism. He baptized José and Celeste was baptized by our ward mission leader. The mission president also came, to make it even more special. We sang "Count Your Many Blessings" and as has happened every time the Assistants or the President has come to one of our baptisms, he asked us to sing it in the upcoming transfer meeting in three weeks. I like to sing for zone conferences and the transfer meeting (which is the "devotional" you speak of attending when you come to visit). At the end, they gave their testimonies and it was really special. I felt joy.

This week, the weather too has been hectic. I know I´m used to weather that constantly changes, but this week was to the extreme, and it affected my health. It started off fairly warm and then got really cold and rainy. That sudden change caused me to lose my voice. It is difficult to be a missionary and not have a voice to speak. So, my companion had to do nearly everything. I would stick out my hand to stop people and he would have to do the contact. He would have to teach mostly everything, but in the quiet situations, I was able to whisper my part. My companion felt a little lonely because we couldn´t converse and I didn´t want to strain anything because I wanted my voice to be able to sing in the baptism. So, I spent a lot of the day whisteling to encourage my companion. It was an interesting experience, but I´m so glad I have a good full, loud voice again.

We also had zone conference and divisions and other things during the week, but we feel really good about the effort that we put forth. Although at times I felt tired and without the desire to do anything, I´m learning to push myself even when tired to acheive my goals. That has been one of my goals for my mission, to learn to work well even when tired. I feel like I´ve grown a lot recently and that I´m beginning to be more constant. I still have a long ways to go, but I´m working on it. The zone leaders and mission president and my companions have helped me a lot. And I know I can count on their true help along with the direct help from the Lord.

Yeah, that was a really trunky letter you sent me Dad, but that is alright. I still can´t imagine the end of my mission yet. The time is short and yet there is so much I need to do. But I hope your coming will be a really happy experience for you two. I´m sure it will be for me too.

I know this work is true and important and that even though we are so imperfect and so inept, the Lord has the greatest plans for his chosen children and will allow us to find them when we prove worthy of His spirit. I love Him for that.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

(I don't know what this is...)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Las preparaciones de dos bautismos

Dear Family,

Before I forget again. Thank you very much for the package. The new socks are really comfortable (I started to wear holes into the old ones) and the Post-Its really useful (even though I recently found some Post-Its here in a Wal-Mart). I´m also very thankful for all the food that was sent. I eat a lot compared to my companions. I don´t have time to write in my journal at night because first of all I make so many phone calls and second I use every extra moment to eat something. I really do have a really fast metabolism. The Gardettos were eaten within a week and I ate the nuts within a month. We didn´t eat all of the Oreos, but they were really good. And I still have some of the Valentine Chocolates to eat or give to investigators and members. And we are thoroughly enjoying the Prego Sauce. I just really wish I knew how to cook other quick things on the oven top or in an oven in which I have no clue how to regulate the temperature (they don´t cook many things in the oven here). Thank you again.

We had another good week, even though it was slightly hectic because we decided to do two divisions, one right after the other. But we were happy with the developments in the week. José Attino and Celeste Soria will be baptized on Saturday! Celeste always liked the church ever since she saw the baptism of her neices (who aren´t nearly as active as they we would like them to be). She wanted to get baptized, but was living "juntada" (unmarried). But in my mission I have begun to see more and more that light attracts light and repels darkness. They seperated and she can get baptized now. And we are hoping that her husband will come around and want to come back and be willing to get married (she has promised not to let him back until they do so). She is still sad by the seperation and we feel for her, but she is also relieved that she can be baptized now.

We´ve been working with José for a long while now. He has gone to church 7 times and every time we tried to set a baptismal date he would say, "We´ll see" and kind of shy away explaining that there were things in his family that he had to fix first, but never told us exactly what his plans were (We think he had a problem with the law of chastity that caused a lot of problems in the family). While on divisions with the zone leaders (the current assistant to the president) he tried to set a baptismal date for that transfer and couldn´t, so he decided to put one for the month of April, the 17th. During the past month, José has kept saying "Vamos a ver" until the past few days. Two days ago when I called him on the phone and asked him about it he said "Yeah I believe so," which to us meant progress, but still no. But my companion called the next day (Saturday) and he said "We´re going to work next week for that." Which is a much firmer yes. And he decided we could announce his baptism in church yesterday at church.

With them both, there is still work to do this week, but the time and active patience (even though it has been really hard on us) is paying off. My companion and I are also going to practice a violin-piano arrangement for the baptism. He received permission to borrow a violin from a Brother in the ward and to play this once.

We also had another investigator come to church, named Beatriz, but left after Relief Society, the first class. It seems what happened was that while in Relief Society a sister gave her a slip of paper to look up a scripture to read. It so happened that she received a scripture from Doctrine and Covenants. She looked in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon and couldn´t find it anywhere, which made her nervous and caused her stomach to hurt and so she left. We were in the other class, so we didn´t realize what was happening. And the sister that we had selected to sit with her and stay with her either didn´t know what was happening or didn´t know how to help. We tried calling her but it is either off or doesn´t answer and there was noone home yesterday afternoon. I hope she doesn´t try to avoid us now because she was really good.

I know this is the work of God and that the Holy Ghost bears testimony of it to those with a humble heart. I know that in this difficult world, that is just getting worse, the Gospel will provide barracades and walls against the evil influences so that we can have peace in this world and the next.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

P.S. Your trip sounded really fun.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Feliz Cumple Mama!

Dear Family,

¡Que lo cumple feliz!
¡Que lo cumple feliz!
¡Que lo cumple Mamá!
¡Que lo cumple feliz!

Happy birthday Mom and a happy Easter to all. You´re on vacation so I can´t have someone call, but I can send a picture of my companion and I. His brother Javiero also has his birthday today. I hope you like your birthday card that "we" did (he´s a little bit better on the artistic side, so he did most of it, but I helped color in balloons). I also absolutely loved general conference yesterday and Saturday too. Yesterday, there were a lot of talks about the healing power of the atonement and the resurrection and also about raising children. I hope that while you were listening Mom and Dad, you were thinking of the excellent job you did at being our parents. When Elder Anderson was asking the questions such as "¿Do your children know...?" I affirm that you can say "Yes," at least for this child (but I´m pretty sure your other two can as well). I love you so much for that knowledge and love you have always given me. And Mom, you don´t have to think about getting old either. When I show pictures of my family, the people here say, "Sus padres son muy jóvenes," "Su mamá es muy bonita," and they have asked, "¿Es ella tu hermana?" (translation: "Your parents are very young," "Your mom is very pretty," and "Is she your sister?"). I´ll have to agree with the three statements. Thank you Mom for everything.

I absolutely loved conference (yes I did just repeat myself). I have been looking forward to it for the past several weeks (actually the past 6 months). The main question I took to conference this year was "How can I be more constant?" The talk by President Uchtdorf was the answer to those prayers. Being constant has to do with the Christlike attribute of Patience. We have to be patient with ourselves and others. And patience isn´t just passive waiting, it is active diligence. It is pushing through the difficult moments without success and backsets so that in the end we have the success we seek. And he condemned "center of the universe syndrom," which I´ve heard from you two and myself several times. The solution? Selfless service. I am being better at being more constant and feel better because of it.

I also love their description of the Duty to God pamphlet for the youth. By their description, I know it is inspired of God and wished that I could have used this new version (but then I received the answer by one of the general authoritiesth at I can and should do it, but with my son). I can see that its focus is going to improve missionary work a lot because it focuses on several skills that a lot of missionaries lack (and I can´t exclude myself). In it you have to learn your duty (study), plan according to needs and circumstances, be diligent about bringing plans about, and bear testimony on the experience. Nearly all the general authorities have stated that good planning is the skill that nearly all missionaries lack. And it is true. We are taught about it and we try, but very rarely do things happen as we think or we don´t put into action our plans. I resolved to be a better goal setter and make real, written plans to bring them about. So, I hope you enjoy the growing and missionary preparing experience of the new Duty to God program Jonathan. I know it will strengthen you a lot.

Here in San Justo things have been progressing. We were happy to have investigators in each one of the 4 normal sessions of conference. They all loved it and strengthened their testimony. And we feel blessed by the Lord because each time, we got to the conference sessions only minutes or seconds before it started (because we used each break to return to our area and to accompany the investigators). We didn´t miss any of it (like we missed half of Elder Hollands talk on the Book of Mormon last year). José continues to go to church and loved the conference. Hernán left Celeste and we are trying to help Celeste through this difficult time, but also commit her to not let Hernán back to live with her until they decide and effectuate a marriage. We know that if Hernán just simply walks back into the life of Celeste, they will just continue having problems. But if he has to overcome the obstacle of getting married, he will improve to be a better father and husband and that is what we want for Celeste, so that she can be happier in life.

I know this work is true and the prophet and apostles are truely inspired. I know we heard the will and the word of the Lord the past two days and I hope to continue to live it constantly in my life. I know the miracles and the spirit, if not in the lives of others, in my own life will pass.

Elder Drake Ranquist

P.S. Happy Birthday Mom! again...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Las Clases del Otono

Dear Family,

I don´t have too much time because we had our zone activity and I had permission to work through my class schedule for the fall. I got on and found out that I cannot register until the 31st, so it gives me time to look through what I need, plan it out and receive advice from you all. I haven´t yet taken a look at what hour each class takes place, I´ll worry about that next week or when I register. One question..., never mind, I looked it up. I need 14 credit hours to keep my scholarship. I was thinking about taking between 15-16 as is suggested in my major. In my major plan, I will take:
Phys 220 - Principles of Physics 3 (3 hours)
Phys 227 - Solar System Astronomy (3 hours)
Phys 230 - Physics Lab 1 (1 hour)
Phys 240 - Design, Fabrication, and Sci Apparatus (2 hours)

Then to round things out a bit, I have decided I want to take:
Rel A 211 - The New Testament (2 hrs)
Phil 210 - Science & Civilization 1 (History with an emphasis on science) (3 hrs)
Exsc 146 - Beginners Racquetball (To have some fun) (.5 hrs)

And then I would like to take some kind of music class. I haven´t yet decided exactly what I want. I am debating between a singing class (Music 111R, 2hrs), a choir (1 hr), an organ class (Music 115, 2hrs), or a piano class (Music 160R, 1hr).

So, those are my thoughts. And I would also like to work, but I don´t know how to check about that, what I´ll be doing, my hours, or anything of the sort. I think I´ll have to think about that later. And I´m not sure if I´ll be allowed to sign up on wednesday the 31st or thursday the 1st while my companion does the progress form or if I´ll have to wait until Monday the 5th, which will be the nearest P-day. I´ll probably ask the president next monday. And Dad, if you want, have time, and it isn´t a problem, it could be nice if you took a look at the class hours and arrange them so that they can fit or let me know if some of them are impossible to fit around one another. If you did that and let me know next monday, Jessica and I might be able to sign up for the same New Testament class (and if she wants to do honors, I can do that with her too). I don´t know if she is planning on that or not.

So, now that that is out of the way (that was weird to do and it didn´t help that I saw that the commander of the Apollo 13 mission is going to BYU for the next forum) , my week went fairly well. We continue to see progress with José. He has gone to church 4 times now and has plans to keep going, but hasn´t quite accepted a baptismal date. The transfer ends next week, so we were hoping that he would decide for this Saturday, but I´m not sure if that is going to happen now.

We were happy to see Gospel Principles completely full this past sunday with recent converts, José, and 3 investigators that need to get married. That is one of the problems I´ve faced my whole mission and I have yet to see one of my investigators get married. The problem always is that one wants to and wants to get baptized while the other wants nothing to do with it, but expects to keep living unmarried with them.

So that is an update on what is going on. I know that this is the true church and that this is where we should be. I know that the Lord will help you in your callings as we seek His help. I hope that all goes well this next week.

With Love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Me Arrepenti

Dear Family,

This has been a really good week, a week of change. First off, I have to say that Jonathan looks a lot older in the photos without braces. I can´t believe the growth he has had and won´t believe the growth that he´ll have in the coming months and year. I won´t recognize him. Is his voice changing too?

I started off this past week fairly depressed and hard on myself. But, on Thursday night, something my companion said got stuck in my mind. “God didn´t send us here to fail.” We were failing because I had chosen to fail. And I knew that all along. But I learned many things about who I am during those moments. I decided that I would do at least my ten contacts the next day, something I hadn´t done for a while.

The next day, my companion and I, together, decided to do something that our president had given us a while back called “Purificándonos” ( Purifying ourselves). It consists of a fast and at the end of the fast you write down habits you need to give up and things that prevent you from having the Spirit. Then you commit yourself that for 40 days you´ll avoid those things. And we decided that we would focus on doing our contacts throughout the day.

And we did them! For the first time in a while. One of my problems is that I want to perfect and I want to be perfect now. I´m not patient with myself and I can´t expect perfection because that is a difficult and long process. On the mission we have a ton of responsibilities and one of the things I have long known about myself is that I cannot multitask. I can´t think about more than one thing at a time. So, when there are lots of things calling my attention at the same time, I get overwhelmed. So, to in the style that conforms most to myself, I decided to put a focus for the day and focus on that one thing while we went about doing the other things throughout the day. And it helped a lot. We acheived our goal and we did well in all of the other things that we were doing.

Friday was a day of Kairos and a day full of other miracles. The biggest of them all (apart from our own repentence) was that Lily, a recent convert had some big news. She had a hard life and made a ton of bad choices in her life. One of the consequences was that she recieved HIV. But, Friday morning, when she went to the doctor to retrieve some studies, everything came out “negative.” Not a trace was found. She finds it as a direct result of being “born again” and cleansing of baptism. Also, this same day, the police came to her house with the papers showing that the man who raped her could not enter withing ten blocks of her. She was estatic when we found her, especially because it meant that she could leave her house again to go visit her children.

Another good result is that Elder Jimenez and I are a lot more unified. The other times when we tried to improve, the other wouldn´t help really. When he tried to change I´d bring him down and when I tried to change, I felt alone. But this time we made the decision to change together and everything became easier. I didn´t have to tell him everytime to do a contact with someone who is coming and he didn´t have to wait all day for me to do one. Our relation reminds me a lot about the relation with my second companion, but I´m glad that we could get over our differences together and learn to love the other better. We now experience a lot more of the Spirit and therefore we are much happier.

We are being blessed immediately for our diligence. A contact we did Friday led us to teach Veronica on Saturday, who came to church with us yesterday. The only problem is that she´ll be in the capital all week and won´t come back until next Sunday morning and doesn´t have a cell phone, so we won´t have contact. Also, she has been living with a man unmarried for the past 6 months. They are still without child, so we´ll se what happens now.

José also came on his own and early to church. We are seeing that his interest is changing into belief. He will make a great member of the church once he feels the need to be baptized, which we´ll help him out in this coming week.

And we had another interesting experience. Here in San Justo, there is a crazy member. He talks about hordes of demons and how we have to gather all of the elders together to fight them and that Beethoven descended to teach him guitar. But, his wife is a member of the Red Cross and completely sane and is not a member, but has a lot of interest. She came two weeks in a row and I didn´t know she wasn´t a member. We taught her yesterday and she has a lot of potential. I don´t have time to explain everything, but I will next week.

I know this is the work of God and that Christ is our Savior. He is always giving us a second chance and will help us when we seek Him.

Elder Drake Ranquist