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...