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