18 June, 2012

Time flies

Well, this week has been great. It's still been a little tough in the sense of finding and teaching due to the weather, and other circumstances, but overall things have gone really good this week. On Tuesday we had a really powerful district meeting about faith. We talked about how we can increase our faith to see modern day miracles. I then did divisions with one of the companionship's in the district. I went to Hernandarias 1.1, with Elder Garzon (Columbia). One of the first lessons was a guy that thought he was super philosophical and tried to be super intimidating. We taught him, and talked to him about how the prophets of God have far greater knowledge of philosophy than all the people in the world, and how the gospel was the ultimate philosophy of God. It ended up being a really long lesson due to his desires to talk and be the one to control the conversation, but overall it went pretty well. We had a couple of other good lessons during the day, and that was it.

I have been teaching my companion the biblical history of the Old Testament for the last couple Companionship studies, which has been pretty good for me to go over as well. He has a really good desire to learn and become better, so we've been working on a lot of things this week. We've been having a lot of Gospel conversations about various themes. Elder Stephenson said that he noticed the difference in how he feels between this change and the last change. He said he and his last companion talked a lot about worldly things, and he just wasn't satisfied or at peace. He said that this change he has really felt the difference it has made in his mission by keeping our minds centered on the things of the Lord, and the mission. We have had a lot of really good deep doctrine talks this change, so it has been really good. My companion and I have gotten along really well, and he has changed a lot since he first got here, and now understands the need to consecrate himself more fully to the Lord.

We found a lot of rejections this week. There's not a whole lot of people who actually have desires to follow Christ. We did find a younger couple that we taught, and it was a really good lesson. The spirit was there really strong, and it guided the lesson really well to make it all go through really smoothly. It is always awesome to be able to see the spirit working through us in the peoples' lives. We left them with a Book of Mormon, and at the end the guy told us, well now you've left me with a lot of curiosity to know if this is true..... It is awesome to see people who actually have desires to know the truth.

We are also teaching a woman that has read until 1 Nephi 3 in the Book of Mormon already, in like a week. She is really liking it, and committed to go to church.... unfortunately she has little children, and it has rained the past four weeks, making it so she can't go. We have literally had it rain the past 4 Sundays, without fail, and only on the Sundays. It is still raining right now, and has been for about 24 hours now. We have a tin roof, so it made it a little difficult to sleep last night every time the rain got hard.

Yesterday I had my final interview with President Callan. It was really good. It lasted about 50 minutes, and we talked about some really good stuff. He talked a lot about different goals that I have for after the mission to be able to maintain the testimony and everything that I have become. We talked about temple attendance, studying the scriptures, prayers, and various other things like that. He then expressed how grateful he was that I served an honorable full-time mission. He told me that I have blessed many lives, and helped many missionaries during my time. He also said that he got a letter a couple months back from a missionary thanking president for having put him in my district because the revelation I had received changed his life. It was really cool to hear that from President, and know that I really have given my all. I am so thankful for the mission, and the time I have enjoyed here. The wisdom of the Lord is so great in calling the weak things of the world, and changing those weak things during two years of their lives. I love you guys tons, and thank you for all your support and Love toward me. I am excited to see you once again, and enjoy the time with my beloved family. Love you all.

ELDER Ryan Griffin.....

11 June, 2012

Fort for warmth

Well this has been a pretty difficult week. Things just aren't quite going the way I would like them to seeing as I am going to be leaving this area in a little bit. I'm doing everything I can to find people, and teach them and get them to church and everything, but it's just not happening. I keep thinking the Lord is going to lighten up the burden at some point, but it looks like I still have a lot of things I need to work on to become better. The Lord is really testing me to see if I can endure until the end at this point, it would definitely be easier if I were baptizing and teaching a lot. It takes a lot more diligence and patience to keep working till the end when things just aren't going the way that I want them to. I have been surprised with the fact that I have been able to keep working as long as I have with little to no fruits (as far as baptisms go). The Lord has really been trying to teach me some of the most important lessons during my mission. I just hope that I have been able to learn all of the lessons that He wants me to.

This week has gotten super cold. Our house has absolutely no insulation whatsoever. In fact it has these bricks in the kitchen that have a design in them, and it has holes, letting all the cold air in during the night. Our room is too big, so it doesn't retain the heat at all, so a couple of nights we were freezing, with two blankets and all, we were still super cold. Even moving at all in the bed, would cause us to wake up, and get cold again. It was a couple of miserable nights, with little sleep. The humidity really makes it feel a lot colder than it really is. It gets down to like 40 degrees is all, but it feels a lot colder than that due to the humidity. In mid week, we decided we needed to do something to keep warmer at night. We can't use the stove things we have, because it could be dangerous, so just joking to my companion, I told him we could build a fort. Well, that little joke quickly turned into reality. We literally took our bed frames, and some blankets, and built a little fort in our room, it traps all the heat a lot better, so we've been sleeping nice and cozy the past couple of days. It's kind of weird sleeping in a fort, but hey, ya gotta do what's necessary to stay warm, right?

We both had to give talks this week in church, and the stake presidency was there. I gave a talk about purifying our internal vessel. It went really well. I feel a lot more comfortable giving talks now, at least in Spanish, and here in a small branch with 50 people. The mission has really helped me to be able to turn fears and weaknesses into, well not really strong points, but definitely less weak points. "I give unto men weaknesses so that they are humble. If they humble themselves before me, I will make that there weak points become strong points unto them." Alright, I know it better in Spanish, but it's something like that. Ether 12:6

In our district meeting we talked about having more people with bap. date, and in the meeting. This week compared to last week, we basically doubled both of those as a district. The district is doing really well, just things here in our area aren't picking up like they need to. I have given my best effort, and I will keep doing it until the end, but I seek only to do the will of the Lord. I know that some day, the seeds I have sown, will be ready for the harvest. I'm really glad that the district is doing well though. When I got here, there wasn't a lot of baptisms here, but now they are doing a lot better.

Well, that's about the story of this week. I love you guys tons, and hope all is well. Have a great week! Love ya

Elder Ryan Griffin

04 June, 2012

This is my work and my glory

Well, this week went well. I just got done with a leadership meeting in Asunción. Also my companion got his ingrown toenail fixed finally. This week went well, with the usual difficulties, joys, and spirit of the missionary work.

During the week we focused a lot on finding new investigators. It's turned out to be quite the difficult task seeing as I have almost spoken to all of the people in my area. I really have talked to almost all of the houses, and so when we are looking, I literally have to search for a house that I haven't already knocked. It's been a real trial, because I want to be finding a lot of investigators, and having lots of success, but it's been tough with the fact that I already know almost all of them. We still ended up finding 10 people in the week. A lot of our time has been dedicated to searching. We set a baptismal date with Oscar (22) for the 16 of June. He said he is going to get baptized that day. Please pour out your hearts that he can be prepared and have enough of a testimony to be able to be baptized this next Saturday. We are also working with some other investigators who are starting to progress. Things are going well overall, it's just been rough with not knowing what else to do here in this area. This week, I was thinking a lot about the fact that I haven't had a whole lot of baptisms during my mission, and how I haven't become a zone leader or anything. One of the nights I felt a little bit weighed thinking about that, and I knelt down and started talking with my Heavenly Father. I asked why I had not had more success during my mission, and why things were so hard, even though I have been working as hard as I can to have success and baptize all the time. I received an impression in my mind, accompanied by a sweet feeling of peace. I heard in my mind, "This is my work, and My glory, and I will bring to pass the salvation of men in my own way and time. You have done all that I have asked of you, and my purposes will be fulfilled in it's own time." It really helped me to realize that although I may not have had a ton of baptisms in my mission, I really was able to become a different person. I have had a change of heart, which was something that I could never have achieved by myself. I am so thankful for my mission. It has changed my life, and I am forever indebted to the Lord for what I have learned and become. I wouldn't change my mission for anything. I love the missionary work.

It rained a bunch on Sunday, and so only Oscar went to church, but he is progressing well. It was a really good testimony meeting. Things are going pretty good here.

My companion is doing well. He is a really good elder, he lacks a little bit of consecrating himself more, but I'm working on that with him. He has really good desires to serve, and be a good missionary. He made a lot of changes in his life to come on the mission, so it is cool to see somebody that really had to turn their life around to come on the mission. We get along really well.

My old companion, Elder King, is assistant now. I saw him and chatted with him a little bit today in the leadership meeting. He'll be going up to Utah State as well, but he leaves 3 months after me. The leadership meeting was really good, and President gave the 5 of us that were the a chance to bear our testimonies. It was really cool to be able to be that missionary at almost the end, bearing testimony of the changes the mission has made in my life. I don't have much time, so I'll have to talk to ya more next week. Love you guys tons. Hope all is well back home. I hope you're all studying your scriptures tons, so we can have some good deep doctrine talks in a little while. ;) Love you guys.

Elder Ryan Griffin

28 May, 2012

Rain, Rain go away, come back in July

Well, this week has been pretty interesting. I got the flight plans today, and forwarded them to you guys. This week we had a lot of rain, and mud. The Paraguayans get into a grumpy mood when the winter starts up. ;) Well, really we just had a lot of door clapping, and whatever else we could think of to try and get into a door.

We found out a trick this week. It turns out that when people don’t answer on the first time of clapping, if you clap for a longer time the next time, they almost always come to the door. Now, as far as getting into the door, that’s a whole different story.

We found some pretty interesting people during the week. We clapped this one house, and a young guy answered, we asked if his parents were there, and he went to go get them. Then out came a Samurai looking man, with long hair and a long beard. He sat down with us, and started going off about how the United States was founded by the devil, and how they just pick on other countries to rob and plunder them. Then he told us that the US planned out the attack on the twin towers, and all this different stuff that he was pretty convinced about. He also told us about this new world organization that was planning on killing 80 percent of the world by vaccination. (good thing I never get vaccines.) finally we were able to get him off that subject, and on to the gospel. We started trying to share the Restoration, and he just said, OK, and you are trying to get to the fact that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet, let’s just cut to the chase. Then he started going off on his religion. Some Israelite church or something like that. He then took the picture of Jesus Christ of the Sermon on the Mount, and explained to us that Jesus Christ had long hair, and a beard, and that it is the appearance of God. He told us that god requires us to have long hair and a beard like that (Ha, good thing I still can’t grow a beard even if I wanted to), and that Satan tries to get us not to, because when he was cast out of heaven, his beard and hair were cut off…… Then he started telling us that God has already come for the second time. Where you might ask? In Peru. Some guy that apparently claims to be God, his name is Ezekiel Jonas. Yeah, we basically just left, and never went back to that guy.

On Tuesday, we ate lunch with some members. They gave us beans, rice, salad, and stake (well as close as you can get to stakes here anyway). It was actually really, really good. My companion and I both ate not two, but three heaping plates of it. The next hour of walking was miserable while we were waiting for the food to be digested. It was definitely worth it though.

We have an investigator that is getting really close to the baptism. Oscar, the one that we have been teaching for a while now. He is really progressing now, and really making the changes in his life that he needs to so that he can be prepared to get baptized. We have had to drop a lot of different people due to their lack of interest, or lack of doing. It’s really sad to get so close to some of the people and then see them just fall due to the temptations of Satan.

My companion and I get along really well. He has a lot of really good desire to learn more and become a better missionary. He has been senior comp for the last couple changes, and so he is really excited to have an older comp and be able to learn some more stuff. We get along really well also, so it’s nice having that for my last companion.

Well, that’s about it for this week, Love you guys tons, and hope everything goes well this week. See ya.

Elder Ryan Griffin

21 May, 2012

Changes, eye problems

Well, as you know we had changes this week. Me and my companion got a change. Elder Richard got shipped out to another area, and I'm staying here in my area for my last change. That'll be 5 changes in total in one area. My new companion is Elder Stephenson, from Nampa, Idaho. He has a year in the mission, so he is a little older than my last companion. He is really cool, and we get along really well so far.
So on Tuesday we got the changes, and my companion and I went around so he could say goodbye to the people. Basically the whole day was spent doing that, so it was pretty boring.... Then wednesday I got my new companion, and we worked in our area.
On Thursday, we finally got to do a service project with a member. His house is like a 30 minute walk from our house, and half way out, my companion realized he had forgotten a change of clothes. We were already a little bit late, so we just went anyway, and I ended up getting to dig a meter deep whole, basically by myself, and my comp got stuck carrying the buckets to go dump out the dirt. It was awesome to actually get a little bit of some manual labor going finally. It's been a while since I've been able to do some hard work in that sense. I'm glad I got lots of practice for that back home with all our digging and stuff in the yard. It was really good getting that done. Later that night, I had to go to another area, to do an interview for a baptism. We were on the freeway waiting for the bus to come, and all the sudden a beaten old truck starts pulling over, and this crazy looking dude just told us to get in his car. We were both kind of sceptical, seeing as we didn't know the guy, and he looked slightly insane, or drunk or something. Then we both just shrugged, and opened the door to the car. There was only one seat, so we got to share that, and I got stuck right on the shifter...... yeah awkward situation when your with a crazy guy. We started going, and I asked the guy how he was, to which he replied "lots of women." Me and my comp just looked at each other, and then he asked, ok, well what is your name. He replied, "there are a lot of them, there's 5 different women." We started kind of wondering what was going on, and then I asked ok, well where are you going to? He said "lots of women." Me and my companion both got a little worried, thinking he was going to take us to a whore house or something at that point. Then I decided to change the theme. I asked him, how is your relationship with Jesus Christ in your life. Then he finally started being half way normal. He said he goes to the Catholic church, and that he already follows Jesus in his life. We conversed for a couple minutes, and then we got to our destination. I left him a law of Chastity pamphlet. Later, the interview went really well. It was a 16 year old kid, and he is really mature. It was a really spiritual interview.
On Friday, after lunch, we went ot Oscar, the one we have been teaching for a while. He had us sit down outside, and then went in to get something. Right as we sat down, a pretty big bug flew right into my eye. When it hit, my natural reaction was to close my eye, so it got stuck in between my eye lids. I tried to get it out, and then all the sudden my eye started burning like crazy. I finally got a hold of the bug, and threw it, and then I ran in Oscar's house, and asked them for some water to wash out my eye. I sat there for about 15 minutes just trying to splash water on it, trying to take away the pain. The pain went down a little bit, and we went back out front, and I kept splashing water on it for about an hour. I got a hold of the mission nurse, and she told me to go to our house, and rinse the eye with purified water. For thirty minutes, we walked to get back to the house, me with just one eye working. We finally got there, and rinsed it out with water good. It was already swollen and miscolored pretty good. Afterwards we went out and started working again. We went to Reinaldo and Silvia, and they asked what happened. I told them, and they told me that all I had to do to make it better, was put breast milk in my eye...... Then they asked if we knew anyone who was feeding...... We just said no, and then, he told his wife to go over to the neighbors house to go get some to put in my eye. Before I realized what was going on, She was coming back, and literally had a cap full of breast milk she had just brought from her neighbors house. I know you're probably thinking right now, "don't tell me you put that in your eye." Don't you worry, I was not going to allow that to be placed in my eye. They tried to convince me to do it, but we left their house, my eye being breast milk free. Crazy Paraguayan remedies.....
So on Saturday, I woke up, and low and behold, my eye was swollen up like a golf ball. Ok, well not the eye itself, but the skin around it. I could hardly even open my eye because it was so swollen up. I called the nurse again, and she gave me a prescription, and I have been taking that, but my eye is still swollen and I can't even open it at all...... no just kidding, don't worry mom, I'm perfectly fine now. The eye is back to normal, and I can see just fine. Lesson learned though, don't let Paraguayan bugs pee in your eye..... it hurts.
I also got a call from some elders in my district on Friday, they told me that they had found a dead man, and that they didn't know what to do. They wanted to know if they should call the cops or not. Yeah, that was a good surprise, that one wasn't in my manual. Well, turns out that a lot of the people told them that they shouldn't call the cops, because then they would become suspects, so I just told them to tell someone else to call the cops....... crazy stuff that happens here in Paraguay.
Well, on the whole missionary work side of things, We had a lot of distractions, and stuff that happened, so not a whole lot happened this week. We did find a seventh day adventist guy, just so happened we found him on Saturday (their sabbath day). We sat down and talked to him, and of course he brought up the whole seventh day first day argument. We just brushed passed it pretty smoothly, and actually had a pretty good lesson with him. We have another appointment with him today, we'll see how that goes.
We also had a lesson with this guy that is named Úbaldo. He was committed to go to church, and on Saturday, we passed by and he said he just can't do it, he doesn't want to change churches. He told us he knows that the Catholic church (where he attends) is false. He told us they are the decendent of those that killed Jesus. He also made a reference to them as the biggest parasite upon the earth. And yet, he doesn't want to change churches. Yeah, I don't really understand it either. Crazy stuff.
Well, things are going pretty good, we're having a little bit of a hard time in the area right now, but this week is a new week, so we're going to change things up here.
Love you guys tons, and hope all is going well. Have a great week. Congratulations on the 50th Dad. Love you guys
Elder Ryan Griffin

14 May, 2012

Mother's day call

Well, It was great hearing you guys again. I'm glad to hear everything is going well back home. I really have realized the importance of the family being here in the mission. It's really something that I took for granted before the mission. Sometimes we really have to have things taken away from us for a time to realize how important they really are to us. I love you guys tons and am so thankful for such great parents that are such great examples in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really realize now how wicked the world is, and how much iniquity and sin there is in this world. It's something that I never really realized being raised in a home where we were taught the gospel standards. I think about how my life would have been being raised in a home where the gospel was not a great importance, or a home with parents that didn't live the gospel. I really realize that I have been so blessed to have the gospel in my life, and to be in a home full of love, and a safe haven from the evils of the outside world. The gospel is the remedy of all the problems in this world, and we are so blessed to have it in our lives. I'm thankful as well to know that I have such great siblings that live the gospel in their lives. I see so much suffering in families when the children make bad decisions and the whole family suffers from those choices. We are so blessed to have a united family where all seek to put in practice the principles of the Gospel.
This week was a great trial for us once again. I've just come to accept the fact that I still have a long way to go before I become what the Lord expects me to be. I pray daily that by the end of my mission, I can become what he expects me to be, I guess I have to accept the trials and tribulations that He gives me to help me get there. It is one of the hardest things to have to see people not making the right decisions to make their way through the eternal progress toward exaltation. I have really come to understand the scripture in Mosiah 28:3(I think that's where it is) that talks about the sons of Mosiah that couldn't bear the thought of one soul having to suffer an eternal torment. It really makes me just stop thinking about myself and my well being and worry about what these people need to have more joy in their lives. I have spent most of my life thinking about myself and my needs, but the mission has really taught me to worry about others.
We had a really rough time finding our investigators during this week. We tried everything we could to find people, and do what we needed to do to start seeing baptisms. Despite our many efforts and prayers, our struggles ended up getting only one of our investigators in church. We ended up finding a lot of new investigators due to the fact that everything was falling the whole week. We have almost talked to everyone here in this area. I am to the point that when I do contacts in the street, about 50 percent of the people we try to talk to, we have already talked to at some point. I love the struggles of the mission! I've never done something so difficult and frustrating in my life, but at the same time I've never felt so much joy and peace in my life. I always was worried about things before the mission, and I really realize I always felt like there was something lacking in my life. That lacking really has been filled through the missionary labors.
In the zone conference, President Callan talked about our missionary purpose a lot. It was the most spiritual conference that I can remember. He also talked about the fact that he wants us all to be excited to go back home, and continue our progress after. I left very edified and excited ot keep working after the conference.
We had a fun process of trying to make a map this week. We went exploring a little bit in our area, and after a couple days we got a map, about 7 papers worth, so it is pretty big. We now have a map in our area. We feel like that is going to help the other elders after us in this area a lot to be able to manage the area better. Hopefully they enjoy it.
We will be knowing the changes later tonight. I'll be letting you guys know what happened next week. I love you guys tons, and hope that all is well back home. Thank you guys for all you do, and for your love and support.
Elder Ryan Griffin

07 May, 2012

The Lord tries those whom he loves‏

Well, as the title of the email states, this week was quite a trying one. All of the things I have learned as a missionary, all of my development, and training, and learning all were tested in a trial of faith for my companion and I. The week turned out to be a complete roller coaster, and unfortunately not your typical fun roller coaster. It was probably one of the hardest weeks of my mission, but it really taught me something. My mission has really changed me. Earlier in my mission, I didn't take all that well to all the trials, and frustrations of the missionary work. Now as a "veteran" missionary I really have learned how to just trust in the Lord and push forward regardless of what happens.

On Tuesday, I did divisions with one of the companionships in my district to do the interview of a guy that was to be baptized. The interview went really well, and the divisions were good. The man that was to be baptized was super prepared. He was studying the BOM, principles of the Gospel, and duties of the priesthood, and some of the Liahonas. He really had a true hunger to know more. It was a really spiritual experience to be able to interview him for the baptism. I love the interviews, because I can share my testimony with them, and hear their testimony as a new(future) member.

I got back from divisions to find out that everything (OK, maybe not everything, but basically) had fallen in our area the day before. The family, Reinaldo and Silvia, said they found out they couldn't get married, because his wife didn't have her documents for Paraguay (she is Brazilian) and that they weren't going to be able to get married and baptized this week. Also our other investigator, Oscar that had a date for this week, was drinking with some buddies when they passed over there. The whole day was apparently a pretty good mess.

The next day, we went to the civil register (for marriages) and found out more information. It turned out that they could in fact get married and everything was fine. We went out to their house later to tell them the good news. When we sat down and started talking, they said that they needed to get the documents first, for migration, and passport and everything, or it would cause problems later on. They said it would make a lot of things harder if they get married before taking care of that. Then they said they made the decision to wait on the marriage and baptism because of those problems, and that it would take about 6 months to get it all done.

We of course investigated thoroughly to find out the law on that. We first talked to a member from Argentina that lives here and is married to a Paraguayan. He told us that it is actually easier if they get married, to get the documents and migrations and everything else. Then the next morning we talked to 3 different judges that all confirmed the same, it is in fact easier to get the documents, and migrations if they get married first. So we realized there had to be something else behind the whole doubt there. We talked to them that night, and asked some good questions before telling them what we had found out, and found all of the iceberg that was under there. They just feel like they need a little more time to prepare.

With Oscar, we visited him on Wednesday. We talked to him about some stuff, and he is still smoking and drinking. There was a slight pause in the lesson, and Oscar asked my companion what he was thinking. To which he replied that he was thinking about a remedy for smoking where you put cigarettes in water, and drink it, which makes you not want to smoke anymore. So what did we do, well lets just say we did a little bit of an experiment. We put 8 cigarettes in a glass of water, and he drank half of it. That was on Wednesday. He still has yet to smoke since then, going on 5 days now. There were some pretty ugly side effects though, some of which were throwing up, stomach aches, headaches, and throat pains..... but those only lasted a couple of hours, and since then he hasn't smoked.

On Sunday, we didn't have any investigators in the meeting, the first time in like 3 months now..... it kind of just set in everything else that had happened during the rest of the week.

Overall, it was a pretty rough week, and my companion was getting really frustrated with it all. (the same I would have done earlier in my mission) Regardless of it all, I had one thing in mind. Trust in the lord with all thy heart. I know that regardless of what happens here in this area, the Lord knows what he is doing. Every day, I pray that the will of the Lord be fulfilled, and I must live by that principle. My mind is set in doing the will of the Lord, and so all I can do, is stay happy, and keep giving everything I've got. If the people don't get baptized right now, in my time, and in my way, they will be in the lord's time and in the Lord's way. I have no doubt that the Lord will do what's best. As long as I am doing all I can, I have no need to worry. This week is a new week, and whatever happens, I will keep praying that the will of the Lord be done, and do all that I can to fulfil that.

I love you guys tons, and pray for you always. Have a great week, and keep pressing forward with a steadfast faith in Christ. Thank you for your examples, and for all you have taught me. Love ya.

Elder Ryan Griffin