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

Sunday, March 14, 2010

El ejemplo de un hermano

8 Mar 2010

Dear Family,

Wow, that vacation that you are going to take sounds so fun. I find it quite interesting that we as a family aren´t typical when we go on vacation. We have to go on adventures to see new things, to have new experiences, and to learn. We get bored on a beach. So, I hope you have a great time during spring break. I´m glad you decided against going to Pennsylvania again because I would like to go there one day, Dad, to see your proselyting areas, even though I know that they have to have changed a ton since then. I´m wondering if I´ll be able to recognize everything in my first few areas when we go visit at the end of my mission.

It will be interesting to know what will be the changes in our stake as well. Such changes can be really exciting. Here in San Justo, they recently became a ward, and by changing the boundaries, they received some really strong families. So, the whole ward is excited to start doing to work, start the home and visiting teaching again, and missionary work. I hope such changes will provide renewed energy to our ward and all will roll forth. If our ward gets changed around again, it will be weird for me. I was only with the new ward boundaries for a few months before I left for school, so I won´t be used to anything.

The work here is progressing slowly, but it is progressing. We have some hope in some people who came yesterday. For the priesthood session (at 9) a man named Guillermo came, but he had to leave afterwards to pick up his children and take them to another church. It was a class instructing the elder´s quorum about home teaching. It was really well done and the Elder´s quorum president tried to help Guillermo as much as possible, but I still wonder what he thought. We´ll find out when we go back wednesday to his house.

We also had Raúl come in halfway through sacrament meeting. He is from Bolivia and his family is there. He works here and every Sunday morning he goes to put money in the bank to send home. That is why he got to church so late. But he really liked it and when we taught him in the church after Sacrament meeting, he accepted a baptismal date for the 20th, which is actually is birthday. But we messed up in our calculations and that would mean he would come only one more time to church before his baptism, so we are going to have to change it for the 27th. But, we´ll see what we have to do because he isn´t married to his wife in Bolivia. So, we will talk with our zone leaders about what he has to do to be baptized.

Right now we are feeling a little better, but the first part of the week we were really down. We weren´t working well and didn´t really have the desire to work well. It is true, depression is one of the strongest tools that Satan uses to obstruct the Lord´s work. Sometimes I feel that here on the mission, I´m facing for the first time in my life feelings of mediocrity. I´ve always felt beforehand that I was one of the best at doing things and here I´m not. I still have a really marked "German" accent (at least they don´t think it is North American) which is often difficult to understand. And I can´t get myself to do all of the contacts I should do every day and every week. I´ve been struggling with that my entire mission. But I know that this is to check my pride and to teach me what I desired at the beginning of my mission -- to teach me to work diligently even when I´m tired. I still haven´t gotten it down. I´m glad that, unlike the way the mission was before President Benton got here, the mission leaders are loving and patient with me.

During my mission, I´ve thought several times that Jonathan, you are going to be an amazing missionary compared to me. First of all, you don´t seek the laud and honor of the world as I tend to do. I don´t do so directly, but I´ve noticed that I often do it subtily. Second, you are much more unselfish than me. You are so loving and kind to everyone. You just make people feel good about themselves. Third, you already know how to work hard and diligently even when the going gets rough. And fourth, you have always been known in our family as a man of great faith. With those attributes of Christ, you will make for a missionary that will see miracles in every footstep. I have a lot to learn from you brother.

I know that this work is true and faithful. I know that blessings come as we rely on the Lord in all that we do. I know He loves us and will always help us in our times of need and let us pass through what we need to strengthen us. I love Him for that.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Dear Family,

My companion tells me that everyone is alright in his family in Chile. He lives in Santiago, so it wasn´t hit quite as hard, but his family said that everything inside the house fell over. But, the house itself is well constructed and that there weren´t any problems. That is the good thing about Chile, they have years worth of experience working with earthquakes because it happens so often there. But the past few days, everyone has been asking my companion, “How is your family?” He didn´t know anything until now when he checked his email. All of the Chileans in the mission received permission to call home for 5 minutes, but my companion decided not to (or rather, when he decided he might, he accidently left the number in the pench. His family changed their home phone number in the past few months). We didn´t feel anything although I heard that some of the tallest buildings in the capital had damaged windows or swayed or something.

But, with the recent earthquakes, we have had opportunities to teach people the plan of salvation ... and more science (there was one person who thought that global warming and the hole in the ozone caused the earthquakes). I like to tell people that death is just the door to a new adventure. We´ll all pass it whether we go alone or in large groups. It helps people think again whether such catastrophes are so terrible or not. I am grateful for the knowledge of the Gospel that we have to see everything in life with a new light.

On a different topic, I find it kind of funny that Mom noticed that I haven´t been wearing my glasses. I don´t say that it surprises me. No, I haven´t lost my glasses. But they are a bit scratched up, and with as much as it has been raining recently, they can be a bother at times. So, I decided not to wear them. As a missionary, it really doesn´t make much difference at all. I can see well enough. When people are far away I might not recognize them or it might make it harder to read the street name or number, but basically nothing changes with or without glasses. They are essencial in school to read the board, but I don´t have to do that much here. Also, most people say that I look better without glasses, so I´m wondering if I´ll heed that counsel and go with contacts after the mission. I don´t know and don´t really care much now.

I can´t quite say that this past week was the best week in my mission. I got a little discouraged and tired, lost the desire to push myself to talk with those that I don´t know, and didn´t work as hard as I should. That happens every once in a while in the mission and at times takes a while to recuperate. But, I am glad that I can say that I´ve tried to be as obedient as I could, but I can´t say that I was diligent. And without such diligence, giving all of your soul, heart, might, mind, and strength, success in the mission doesn´t exist.

It has been really difficult to do things that are so against my nature, but I know that it is helping me to polish all of my weak spots. I´ve always been good at getting along with people, but here I have to push them to improve. That work is much harder. But, I know I´m not alone in that work. As long as I am obedient and diligent, the Lord promises His spirit.

At least we have a few sparks of hope here. A couple that Elder Jimenez and Elder Chamberlain taught had gone on vacation and returned this week. They are named José and María (the most Catholic names you can find). María doesn´t have too much interest, but José, while he was on vacation, found an old Book of Mormon from 1970 in a library and he bought it. When we saw him, he was talking a lot about baptism, but didn´t feel quite ready to decide yet. He came with us to church on Sunday and we´ll go back to see him on Wednesday. We´ll see what happens.

I know that this work will always march forth and that no matter what happens, the Lord will protect and provide for His people, those that are righteous. God will make us the best that we are through the loving means of a perfect Father. And all shall be as He says.

With love,
Elder Drake Ranquist