13 December, 2010

Cockroache infestation

Well this week has been another difficult week, but a week that I have learned a lot.

On Tuesday, we had a district meeting, about an hour away from our area. We got on a bus, but it was the wrong one, so we sat on there for about an hour and a half, and then finally got to the meeting. After that we did splits with the district leader and his companion, who was in my district in the MTC. I went with the one that was in my district, and the district leader went with my companion. During the day, it started out clear and hot, then a cloud came, it poured for a little while, and then was sunny again. Then a little while later, it did the same thing, and finally did it again during the day. Three times of rain and then getting hot and humid, quite the interesting mix. We taught some really good lessons with a couple of the investigators from their area, and then the next day I returned to my area. During the week we only taught 25 lessons, but we found a lot of really good investigators.

One investigator we found is named Ramon. He is atheist, but not strongly atheist. He basically just doesn't really believe that there is a God. We talked to him, and left him with a Book of Mormon, and left him with Alma 22 to read. We told him to pray for confirmation that there is a God, and then to pray about the things that we had taught him. We still haven't had a chance to talk with him again, but we are going to go back there today or tomorrow.

Another family that we found is the Family Benitez. The husband had an accident with a machine, and only has 2 fingers on his right hand. He also can't see out of his right eye. Anyway, we taught him, and his wife, and daughter (in her 30's). At the end of the lesson, they asked us, "how can we get one of these books?" We of course gave them the Book of Mormon, and left them with the challenge to read it. After that we ended with a prayer, and the daughter prayed, while she was thinking of something she was thankful for, her dad said "and this book". I'm excited to return to see how it went with them today.

This week I've really been thinking a lot, because I have been so focused on the numbers. Sometimes I am just teaching the lessons, and doing the things to get a number, and nothing else. I have really been thinking about the fact that I need to focus more on the people. The numbers are to help the people progress, not the other way around. I also was praying for help this week, because I just have felt like I was doing everything in vain. Today during my personal study, I ran across a scripture in Corinthians that says something to the effect of "when you are in the work of the Lord, your work is never in vain" It really helped me to realize, that as long as I am trying to work as hard as I can, the things that I'm doing aren't in vain.

This week was the "birthday" of the virgin of Caucupe, on the 8th. The Catholics here worship the virgin Mary, and on the 8th, there was almost nobody in the streets or anything, because they were all in Caucupe to worship their dolls. It really is amazing to see the power that Satan has down here in Paraguay, that he can blind people into thinking that we have to worship the mother of Christ, and break the 1st commandment. The people here are really just blinded with ignorance, and our main goal is to help them start thinking for themselves....

Also this week we had a zone conference with President, and Hermana Callan. It was a really good conference, and I feel like I learned a lot from the things that they talked about during it. We also received calendars with pictures of all the Elders on it. Also I got some more name tags that I ordered a while back, so now I have one in Guarani.

We have had a problem with the cockroaches for a while in this apartment, and so we bought some poison stuff to kill them. They have this nest that is behind the counters, and we always find them when we get in the house after the day. We sprayed it all over in the spot that we knew where they were, not knowing if it was going to work very well or not. After that we were standing in the kitchen talking for a little bit. In literally about 2 minutes, the cockroaches started leaving from their nest, and we started killing them. After about 30 minutes or so of killing them, they finally all had come out (or at least we hope so). In total we killed literally about 70 cockroaches that came out of there, quite a nasty experience, but at least now we don't have to live with all those. I took a picture of it, but my camera battery is dead, so I can't send the picture that I took of it, but there was literally a pile of cockroaches by the end.

Well thank you for the support and the love that I always have from you all. It always makes it easier to work the rest of the week after reading your letters. I hope all is going well with you, and the pups.... and that you are all healthy and well. I love you all, and look forward to being able to talk to you for a little while on Christmas. Take care, and let me know about the time of calling next week.

-Elder Ryan Griffin

06 December, 2010

It is hot and getting hotter

Hey family!
Sorry that I wrote the whole letter last week in Spanish, I was going to write a letter to Taylor, and then to you, but I ended up not having enough time to do it. I told Taylor to translate it for you though.
This week has been one of the harder weeks of the mission, but also one of the weeks that I have learned the most about myself, and strengthened my testimony. I have been sick with a stomachache and a headache almost all of this week. We went out and worked every day of the week anyway. It was difficult working this week, because I didn’t feel very good, and didn’t have very much energy to walk all day. This week I started feeling how hot is going to be getting here. We had a day in the 40´s Celsius. I think that is like 104 Fahrenheit. On top of that the humidity here is ridiculous. Apparently underneath Paraguay is one of the largest amounts of water in the world, and for that reason, if it is hot, it is also humid. During the days that we are walking, my shirt gets completely drenched in sweat; it never even got this hot in Texas when I was there. Also the weather here is completely unpredictable, it can be perfectly clear, and then in literally ten minutes clouds come and it starts pouring rain. Other days when it looks like it’s going to rain, we bring our umbrellas, and of course those days it doesn’t rain. When it does rain, it is literally like a flash flood, and when we don’t have our umbrellas, it’s practically taking a shower with our clothes on. The streets always fill up with water, and there are literally rivers that we have to go through to get back to our pension.
This week, we were doing our personal study (Elder Merrill and I; my companion and the other one from Ecuador just talk during personal study) and the elders from Villa Elisa got a call, Elder Paledines(the companion of Elder Merrill) answered it and it was the president, he said he wanted to come and talk to his companion, and that he would be there in 40 minutes. Of course we hurried and cleaned up the apartment, and then started our companion study. President came in and talked to us a little bit before he left. Apparently Elder Merrill´s father has liver cancer, and was going in for an operation, and so president came to tell him.
Also this week it rained like crazy on the morning of Sunday, for the second week in a row. We had only 15 members that came to church, we started with only 7. Once again none of our investigators came to church, and so the 4 baptismal dates fell again. I don’t know if it’s a lack of faith on their part, or on ours, but we are trying everything to help them go to church. I think part of it is that we aren't teaching clearly enough the importance of going to church.
Anyway, now I am not feeling so sick, and at least I know that this week can't be any worse than this last week. Also we have a conference for Christmas this Friday with President Callan and his wife.
I love you all, and I will talk to you again next week. Hope everything is going well, and that you are all healthy and well.
-Elder Ryan Griffin

30 November, 2010

Wow a whole letter in Spainsh

Taylor, (this is a translation of a letter Elder Griffin wrote in spanish. The original letter follows this one).

(how are you?) Thank you for the letter, I now know how to understand spanish better than when I was in the M.T.C. It is surprising the gifts of the spirit that we an receive as members of the church. I do not have a doubt that the Lord helped me to learn so quickly. There is no way to learn a language like this in less than three months without the help of the Lord. We spoke about the gifts of the spirit this last week in Priesthood, and I realized that during the mission, We are very close to God. and we receive many blessings from Him. If we only could remain faithful we could always receive the gifts God wants to give us. There are many things that I have been learning here in the mission. It is sad to see that there are many inactive members here(I am guessing it was the same in your mission) In almost all of Paraguay, there are 10% of the members that attend church each week. When it rains, there are only about 5% that show. I began to think alot about this..why so many people don't go to church. The truth is, I think there is one reason...it is because they don't read the holy scriptures every day. With each less active member with whom I have spoken, Their inactivity started with the same thing of not reading the scriptures. It is like Lehis dream that the iron rod is the word of God, if we study it each day we will not fall. I desire to help the Lords converts better understand this. Because I don't want them to fall away from the church after they are baptized. The two girls that were baptized a few weeks ago, are not attending church, and it is very difficult because I feel responsible for not teaching them clearly enough. I don't want this to be a problem during my mission. I don't feel like I am helping people if they fall from the church after their baptism. but it is impossible at times to know the impact I am having as a missionary. I am praying each day for the guidance of God to know how I can know what to do better to help these people.

I am always in agreement with that, that the most difficult times are the best times. The days that we are tested to the limit, are the days that we grow the most. It is still hard to have a great attitude during these hard times. I am very grateful for the oppurtunity to serve a mission. I have grown in knowledge, testimony, I have matured...I don't know if I have grown in height. but I know that I still have alot to learn before I finish my mission. I cannot believe that I already have been out five months.

Yeah, I heard you have a girlfriend, I still have not seen a picture. I am happy that you have found someone, and I hope she is a good girl for you. The girl that I was going-out with has not written me during my mission. I feel that that is better, I can now be more focused in the mission.

Take care of yourself. I hope to hear from you again.


Querido hermano mio,

Mb'ateko? (¿como estas?) Muchas gracias para la carta, ahora yo puedo entenderlo mejor que cuando estaba en el CCM.... Es sombroso los dones del Espíritu que podamos recibir como miembros de la iglesia. No tengo ninguna duda de que el Señor me ayudó para aprenderlo tan rapido. No hay una manera en que yo pude aprender un idioma así en menos que tres meses sin la ayuda de Dios. Hablamos sobre los dones del Espíritu en el Sacerdocio la semana pasada, y me dí cuenta que durante el mission, estamos muy cerca al Dios, y recibimos muchas bendiciones de Él. Sí solamente podemos siempre permanecer fiel así para que siempre podamos recibir estas dones que Dios quiere darnos. Hay muchas cosas que he sido aprendiendo aquí en la mision. Es triste para ver que hay tantos miembros inactivos aquí (supongo que fue mismo en su mision). En casi todo de Paraguay, hay un decimo parte de todos los miembros que asisten a la iglesia cada semana. Cuando llueve, es mas como 5 por ciento de las personas. Empezé de pensar mucho en eso, porque hay tantos personas que no van a la iglesia. En verdad, pienso que es de una razón.... que no leen las escritoras sagradas cada día. Con cada menos activo que he hablado, siempro empezó con la misma cosa, dejar de leer las Escrituras. Es como el sueno de Lehi, que la Barra de Hierro es la palabra de Dios, si lo estudiamos cada día, no vamos a caer. Yo deseo que puedo ayudar mis conversos para entender esto mejor, porque no quiero que caen de la iglesia inmediatamente después de su bautismo. Las dos chicas que bautizamos algunas semanas atras ya han dejado de asistir a la iglesia, y es muy dificil, porque siento que es mi culpa por no enseñarles bastante claro.... yo no quiero que esta es una problema en toda mi mision.... yo no siento que estoy ayudando personas si caen de la iglesia después de su bautismo, pero es imposible a veces para saber. Estoy orando cada día para la guia de Dios para saber que puedo hacer mejor para ayudar las personas mejor.

Es muy interesante en la mision para ver que hay tantos misioneros disobedientes. Por ejemplo, ahora en nuestra pension tenemos 4 elderes, 2 de Utah, y 2 de Ecuador. El elder de ecuador(no mi compañero) siempre roba mi comida.... es muy dificil, porque todos recibimos la misma plata, pero, el lo gasta, y por eso siempre no tiene comida en el fin de la mes. Siempre esta robando mi comida..... y ya no recibimos mucho. Tambien el y mi compañero siempre quieren hablar durante el estudio comañerismo, y entonces, muchas veces, no lo tenemos. El parte mas dificil, es que mi compañero es muy negativo..... siempre esta diciendo que los miembros son terrible, y que no tenenmos buenos investigadores, y cosas así que no me gusta. No obstante, esto tratando de disfrutarlo, el generalmente esta dispuesto a trabajar cuando salimos de la casa, y por eso no es tan mal.

Siempre yo he estado en acuerdo con esto, que los tiempos dificiles son los mejores. Los días en que estamos probado al limite, es cuando crecimos lo mas. A veces todavía es dificil para tener buen animo durante estas situationes. Yo siento tan agradecido para tener la oportuninidad a servir una mision. He crecido en conocimiento, y testimonio, madurez (no sé si he crecido en estatura) pero sé tambien que todavía tengo mucho mas para aprender antes que termino mi mision. No puedo creer que ya tengo 5 meses en la mision, pasa demasiado rapído.

Si, ya escuché que tiene una novia, pero todavía no he visto una photo. Estoy feliz que ya ha encontrado alguien, y espero que ella es una chica buena para usted. La chica que estaba citando no me ha escrito en todo mi mision, pero pienso que es mejor, porque puedo enfocar mejor sin esta distración en mi vida.

No tenía tiempo para escribir a usted y a madre y a padre, entonces puede decirles a traducirlo, o usted lo traduce por ellos? Gracias hermano, te quiero, y espero que todo vaya bien en su vida.

Cuidense, y espero que le escucho otra vez.

-Elder Griffin

22 November, 2010

Gotta get the investigators married

That’s crazy to see how much snow we have there in Utah. We have pretty much the opposite here in Paraguay. Almost every day is hot. It rains every once in a while, which just makes it more hot and humid. This week it’s been pretty hot, and I’m getting a nice tan, and haven´t been burned yet. Right now I’m darker than half the natives here, well my arms and face are anyway. I have some major tan lines already that are just worse and worse every day. One where my collar is, and the other where my sleeve ends.
This week has been a good week. It definitely wasn’t one of our best weeks, but we found a couple of new investigators that we are now teaching.
One of the new investigators that we have now is named Ramon. He is about 14 or so, and we found him a couple days back. We taught him this week, and for the first lesson that we taught him we set a baptismal date for the 18 of December. We left him with the commitment to read and to pray, and we are going to return tomorrow. Also he knows a member that is about his age that lives a couple houses up, so we are going to bring this member with us the next time so that he can help him go to church and everything.
Also this week we have continued teaching Miguel and Paula. Miguel has completely stopped drinking, as far as he has told us, and seems to be doing better. The problem with them right now is that they still are not married, and as of right now don’t have the desire to get married. We have talked to them multiple times about matrimony to try and help them, but usually it ends up in a fight, and they just say the things that the other one needs to change before they get married. We are going to bring a couple from our ward this week to talk to them, because obviously we have absolutely no experience with marriage.
Also this Sunday we talked to our bishop about doing Ward council. In our zone conference, and everything they are pushing really hard to start doing ward council more in the wards. We talked to him about doing it every other week, like the presidency has asked all wards. We are constantly trying to get our leaders here to do stuff, because they are always really lazy, but we are trying to support them, and show that we are here to help them, not to be a burden. We want to start doing ward council so that we can actually involve the ward more in the work. Out here it feels more often that we constantly have to beg and plead the members to give us references, accompany us for lessons…. And we want to have it so that the ward has more of a desire to help the missionaries. We have one leader, the 2nd councilor that does pretty much everything in the ward. He does all the responsibilities of the bishop, he just lacks the calling. Anyway, he is helping us a lot to talk to the bishop, and start working more efficiently with the wards here.
My companion right now is….. interesting. He is one of those missionaries that wants to have fun on the mission, and sometimes just doesn’t know when it’s enough. He is usually willing to work if I tell him lets go or whatever. It’s kind of frustrating, because I just find myself getting annoyed with him a lot, so it’s hard to feel unity. Anyway, he is good at teaching when he is serious, and he is willing to work when I push him along a little bit. For the most part he knows really well how to be effective in the days and use our time wisely. Although it’s difficult sometimes, I am trying to learn to love him so that we can have unity and not impede the spirit from teaching the people.
Anyway, love you guys, and I'll talk to you later. Thank you for everything.
Elder Ryan Griffin

18 November, 2010

Elder Cow?

Hola otra vez mi familia,

This week has been a good week again. Elder Gutiérrez already had 4 changes in this area, and so of course we had a change. He went to Cuidad del Este, and left 2 days ago. I now have a new companion, named Elder Vaca, or in English.... Elder Cow. He is from Ecuador.... the third native companion in a row. The other elder in the same apartment as us had a change as well. We now have two elders from Ecuador, and two from Utah. The other elder from utah has 3 changes, one more than me, and he is from Layton, his name is Elder Merrill. Anyway my companion has 1 year and 5 months in his mission, a little bit more than my last companion. He is a great elder so far, and speaks a little different than the people here, but for the most part I can understand him.

Also this week we had our zone conference with Elder Foster of the 70. He is the area president here in Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Him, his wife, and the callans all spoke to us during about 3 or so hours. Elder Foster talked to us about this mission. In the past 5 years or so in this are of the three countries, the attendance of members has decreased by 3000, but the baptisms have increased the membership constantly. The problem here is that we constantly are having oler members stop attending, and a lot of the converts stop going to church. We talked about how we need to start doind ward council every other week so that we can start keeping the members in the church, and keep the converts active. The president had all the stake presidents have meetings with the bishops to train them about ward council and everything, unfortunately our bishop in our ward was too busy to attend the meeting.... so we have to train him on how to do it. The other problem, is that he is not all the excited to start doing it. Anyway, we talked a lot about how much the mission is struggling, and that we need to start increasing the memberships and everything else here.

This week I have to know all the investigators and members and the routes of all the collectivos, and all that good old stuff after being here for 6 weeks. Our area is huge, and I still haven´t even seen about half of it, but I know where all of our investigators live, and all the members, and everything pretty well. It's kind of weird having to be in charge of it for now, because my companion doesn´t know any of the people, so i have to pretty much teach the lesson.

The investigators are doing pretty good for the most part.....

Miguel and Paula- They still have to get married before they can be baptized. She wants to be baptized, and he kind of does. The problem is that they don't want to get married. they have four children, so we can't try to seperate them either. Every time we try to bring up marriage, they start to argue, and say that they don´t want to get married until the other one changes. we have tried just about everything that we can think of to help them to want to get married, but honestly can´t figure out what to do. We are constantly praying for guidance that we need with them, and I know that if it is the will of the Lord, that we will find something to help them

Jorge and Ruth- They are a couple that we found more recently. Ruth is the cousin of the two girls that we baptized a little while back, and she attended their baptism. She told us she really liked the baptism, and that it was all really good. She attends some evangelical church, but hasn't been baptized. We have taught them a couple of times now. Jorge is Catholic, or in other words he attends the catholic church sometimes. He has told us that the catholic church does a lot of bad things that are against the bible, but that he thinks that they are the only churhc that teaches true doctrine. Of course we responded that the doctrine of a church is the things that they do and the things that they teach, not just the things they teach. We also told him that the true church of Jesus Christ should not have anything contrary to the teachings of Christ, or have any bad fruits (Matt. 8) Anyway we committed them to pray about the Book of Mormon (they had already read the part we had left earlier) Tee next time we returned they had done it, but they told us that they didn't feel anything. She however told us that she thinks our church is true, and that she feels good when we teach them and when she reads the Book of Mormon. I think that part of the problem, is that Jorge doesn't want to recieve the answer that the church is true, but we are still working with them to try and help them to gain the testimony they need

We have another one named Jonny, who has read and prayed, and is great. All we need to do with him right now is have him attend church. He works a lot, so it is hard to do that part, but we are trying to find a time that he can come to church when he doesn’t have to work. Other than that, there is a whole lot of new stuff that has happened. Everything is going really well, and I still haven’t been sick yet. Spanish is going fantastic, the president and Elder Foster complimented me on my Spanish during the zone conference, although it’s not really thanks to anything that I did. It really is amazing to see how the gifts of the spirit are manifested during our misisons. I cna not believe how fast Spanish came, and how much stuff I could remember from the little bit of Spanish that I had in Junior high. I have started studying Guarani now, becuase there is a book of Guarani in our apartment. But I haven’t learned a whole lot yet. It is a lot harder because you have to use your nose to speak. I hope that I can learn it before i’m done with my mission so that I can bear my testimony in Guarani.

Elder Ryan Griffin

08 November, 2010

Little update on Ryan and Paraguay

Well our weather has been nice and hot, and humid pretty much the entire week. The area I'm in right now is more city, but there is hardly such thing as paved roads here. Paved roads means they threw a bunch of rocks down and threw some sand on top of it, it is quite fun to walk on. My pair of shoes from Liahona are already falling apart because the rocks just destroy the shoes and our feet. I have been really humbled living here for the past two months because i realize how blessed i was to be living in America. The people here pretty much just work to eat, and eat to live. My health has been fantastic. I will let you know if I get sick or anything though.

Horray, 3 baptisms

Well this week has been a fantastic week. The Lord has blessed us more than we deserve, but we are very thankful for the blessings that we recieved. We had three baptisms this week, and all three were confirmed. Two of them are sisters, named Monica who is 16, and Ana Laura who is 12. They are Korean, and their parents are less active members. The missionaries have been teaching them for quite a while now, and we were blessed to be the ones to baptize them. Monica had been baptized in another church earlier, and has had a testimony of the church for quite a while now, but just had something that was keeping her back from being baptized. We taught them the 3rd lesson, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and talked about how you have to recieve the Holy Ghost after a baptism for it to be valid. We read the scripture in Acts 19 about when Paul asks some people if they have receved the Holy Ghost after they were baptized, and that he re-baptized them and then confirmed them with the gift of the Holy Ghost. After the lesson, we set the date, and then we kept talking to them every day, and did the interview, and then this last Saturday they were baptized. Emilio, our other baptism, is 18, and has a girlfriend that is a member of the church. He has wanted to get baptized for a while now, but we haven't felt that he has a testimonio of the church yet. We talked to our zone leaders and District leaders because we felt like it is wrong to deny somebody a baptism, and so our district leader interviewed him. He said that he thinks he is ready to be baptized, and so we baptized him this saturday.

This week we also taught 40 lessons, 12 of which were with a member present. We are still trying to get the members more involved in the misisonary work here.... Out of our bishopric, we couldn't get one of them to attend the baptism, which is kind of frustrating, but I'm trying to more patience with the members here.

This last week they had some elections of mayors in all the cities. With the elections here the people camaign like crazy. Almost every day there was lines of cars with flags and stickers that would go around in our area just honking, and blasting music.... quite the fun time. For the elections here, the people gound and pick people up to go and vote, and then they color all the peoples' fingers so that they know who has voted and who hasn't. Our asistencia en our iglesia was really bad this week, because apparently the members think it is more important to vote than to go to church.

I have been reading in the New Testament for my personal study a lot, so that I can be better aquainted with the scriptures in the Bible. It is amazing reading the New Testament, how many things there are that are against every other religion except ours. I don't understand how the people can say that they believe in the Bible, but have teachings that are so contrary to the Bible. One of the things that I have been learning here in the Mission, is the importance of reading the scriptures every day. The members that read their scriptures here are the same members that actually want to help us in the misisonary work. They go to church because they want to instead of out of obligation. It is just amazing to see the difference it makes in people when they just read the scriptures every day.

By the way, just a side note, if you want to hear what Guarani sounds like, you can go into the conference talks and go to Guarani, and listen.... quite an interesting language.

Well I love you all, and I will talk to you again next Thursday. Hasta luego, les amo!

-Elder Ryan Griffin

01 November, 2010

The rain becomes a blessing

Well it´s been a bitter sweet week.... there have been some ups and downs, but overall it has been really good.

We taught Rodney again, the one that i talked about in the last email. We arrived at his house this Saturday, and started talking to him. He wasn't really too intent on letting us try to come in and try to teach him. Luckily for us, we had the help of the Lord on our side..... it started raining, and when it rains here, it really rains. The streets are like rivers, quite fun trying to get home in after it has rained. Anyway, when it started raining he let us come in. We taught him about the Restoration, and found out he had read 10 chapters in the Book of Mormon starting in 3rd Nephi 11. This of course was a surprise, since usually we can't even get people to read two verses in between visits. Anyway, he had a doubt about the 21 chapter.... because it says something about that the people who don't accept the Book of Mormon will be destroyed. We talked to him about the fact that if poeple reject the gospel that they will be destroyed. We cleared a lot of questions up that he had, and overall it was a really good lesson.

We have been working this week with Hermano Pando and his family. He is one of the members that is actually willing to help us. He is constantly seeking to share the gospel with his neighbors, and friends. Unfortunately we have had trouble finding people at home still.

On Friday, the day started out perfectly clear. After a little while however, the skies started getting darker and darker. When it was about 5 it started raining, and since we didn't bring our umbrellas, we had to seek shelter in one of the members´ houses. We went to the house of the Tabel family, who are really helpful as well with the missionary work. Anyway, it started just pouring for about 30 minutes, and then literally out of nowhere, iceballs started falling from the sky, about the size of golfballs..... quite the weird experience. After a while of that, it finally stopped, and we got to walk through the rivers, i mean streets back to our house. About 2 minutes after we arrived, it started the downpour again.

This week we set 5 baptismal dates.... unfortunately none of them came to church. We had about 20 investigators that told us that they were going to come to church, and we had one actually show up. One of the baptismal dates that was for this week fell, because the investigator moved. Two of the others fell because they didn't attend church. The other two are still good because they already had there 3 times of going to church.

One of the dates we set is named Fransisco. His "señora" is a member that is less-active. He is the one that had the dream of his grandpa holding a Book of Mormon in his hands. Anyway it is difficult with him because he still has his wife, and they are still trying to get divorced, but it takes forever here in Paraguay. Also of course he has to get married before he can be baptized, so we are still praying and trying to figure out what to do with him. The problem right now as well, is that there is an election in here in Villa Elisa this next Sunday, and they are working for one of the candidates. The people here go all out for the elections of what is the equivelent of a mayor in the US.

Another one is named Victor Huesped. He had met with the missionaries before we found him. When we found him, he had recently been in a motorcycle accident. The Sunday before this last one, he attended church, but we didn't even see him, because it was the Stake conference. The problem with him is that he works a lot.

The other two are two daughters of parents that are members.... that are less active of course. They are a korean family... yes there are koreans here, and Germans as well.... I'm not sure why, but there are quite a bit of them. Anyway the two daughters want to be baptized, they are 16 and 14. The one that is 16 wants to be baptized, but has some kind of doubt.

Anyway, this week was a good week, thanks for all the support and the love! I love you all, and hope all goes well with you. Que le vaya bien!

-Elder Ryan Griffin
La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias

25 October, 2010

Waiting for a miracle

Buenos dias familia,

This has been an interesting week, we had the week planned out well, with a lot of appointments, and two days in that members would accompany us. On Monday, we had a member accompany us, and we taught three lessons with him. We also contacted a guy that is about 20 years old or so. He goes to some church that I don't even know, anyway we were talking to him for a while in the streets. He told us that he doesn't feel good about his congregation that he is in right now, but that he doesn't want to switch denominations. He also told us that he is constantly praying for guidance from God to know what he needs to do.... and that's where we come in. We are the third set of missionaries that have tried to talk to him. He has a very set vision of God, and the things that he does. He told us that God is going to answer him in his dreams, and that he knows the Holy Ghost, and that he wants a church that he feels the spirit in the congregation. We talked with him about the fact that he has to keep his mind open, we can't possibly tell God how he is going to answer us, or we will never recognize the answer. He is looking for guidance in his life, and we told him that we are that guidance, and that God is trying everything he can to help him. He still didn't believe us, and we set an appointment to go with a member that lives in another ward that he had heard about and wanted to meet. On Friday, we went to the house with him. The woman is a member, and has been for 8 years now. The thing is, that she is bedridden, and has been for 13 years. She has no legs, and her arms don't work, yet she is one of the happiest people I have met in my life. She attends church every week, regardless of her condition, and has such a powerful testimony. We taught a lesson with our investigator, and her, and she bore her testimony, and talked with him about the importance of this church. We feel like it went well, and we gave him a Book of Mormon to read and pray about. He refused however to set an appointment to meet again, but lives across the street from some investigators that we are teaching, and said he would come over to talk to us when he reads it.

Other than that, this week has been one of the harder weeks so far. Pretty much the last 4 days of the week, nobody was home, and all of our appointments were falling through. All of the 4 days we returned home exhausted, and drained emotionally and physically. I'm not sure why we weren't able to find a whole lot of people this week, but as I decided at the beginning of this transfer, regardless of what happens during my mission, I am going to keep going and pushing on with all the strength that I have left. If by the time we return to the house, we have absolutely no energy left, we may be disappointed in our investigators, but at least we can know that we did everything in our power to help them. This week we also had trouble trying to get members to help us. We have a couple of investigators that are women, and we can't teach them unless we have a responsible male present. The problem is that there are a lot of women who don't have husbands, or sons old enough, so we can only teach them if we have a member. The problem was, this week; the members weren't very willing to come with us to help us teach them. It is a constant battle here with the members, we have two or three that are willing to help us, and the rest just don't have any desire to do it.

Anyway, this has been a hard week, but I'm still fighting with all I’ve got to try and help the investigators. I know that as long as I do all that I can do, that the Lord will put in his part to help the people.

This week has been a little more rainy than usually, which is nice for the fact that it is cooler, but makes it hard because all the people hide in their houses because they think that 60 degrees is cold. Other days were nice and hot, and humid, which makes it a lot worse. The members have said that the heat hasn't even started yet, that it is January, and February that get up to over 40 degrees Celsius, or about 105 degrees Fahrenheit.... with whatever amount of humidity. I think you can probably just expect me to be black by the time that i return home.

Well that's about all for this week, I love you all, and hope everything goes well this week. Keep the people of Paraguay in your prayers! Thanks for the support, and your prayers. Hasta la proxima semana.....

-Elder Ryan Griffin
La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias

18 October, 2010

McDonalds and free ice cream

Hola Familia!
They have peanut butter here, because I bought some this week. It is however fairly expensive, a normal sized container was 17 mil Guaraní, or about 3 dollars. It's not that much, but in comparison to the other foods and stuff here, it is pretty expensive.

Well once again it has been a good week. We had a baptismal date for this week, but it ended up falling through... The investigator's name is Jorge, and he is about 19 or 20. On Friday we went to his house to go over the baptismal interview questions, and when we showed up, he told us that he isn't ready. We talked to him, and come to find out that he doesn't know if he believes in Jesus Christ, and a bunch of other things. We are still working with him this week to try and get him prepared (for real this time) for baptism.

We have continued teaching Miguel and Paula. Miguel again this week had a relapse, and drank.... but the good news is that they went to church with their three kids. We gave Miguel a blessing that he can be able to overcome his problem with drinking, and taught them the blessings that their family can receive if he will do all that he can to leave it behind.

We also taught Francisco again. He had told us that he was going to come to church, but come Sunday, he wasn't there. We went to his house after church to see why he wasn't there. It turned out that his wife (a less-active member) had a really bad fever, and so he couldn't come. He had prepared everything to go with us, his shirt, shoes, pants, tie and all, but wants to go to church as a family, and didn't want to leave his wife there being sick. We asked if she would like a blessing, which of course she accepted. Before we did it, we taught her about the important things in a blessing that is the faith of the person receiving the blessing and the will of the Lord. We told her that we know that if she has faith that she will be healed, that the Lord will help her.

We are also teaching an investigator named Juan Carlos. He always receives us very well, and loves when we teach him and everything. This week, we committed him to go to church (we also did last week, and he said he would next week). This week, once again he replied, the next week I will go. We talked to him and asked what it is that impedes him from going to church, he told us that he doesn't feel prepared enough to go to church.... to which we replied that church is for the people who need healing, the people who need help, not for the people that are perfect. Regardless of this, he was relentless that he didn't want to go this week. We know there is some underlying objection, and we are still trying to figure out what it is.

We also taught a woman named Christina. Her son is a member, and the Elder's quorum president in our ward. My companion and the elder before me had been teaching her, and had supposedly taught her all the lessons already. We talked to her, and found out she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon. We taught her the restoration, and the Book of Mormon, and during the whole thing she was asking us really good questions (which is unusual here). In the end we committed her to read the Book of Mormon, and attend church this coming week.

The interview with President Callan was really good. We talked about a successful missionary, and what it means to be successful. We talked about how baptisms are not necessarily the thing that we should use to judge our success. There is a chapter in Preach My Gospel, which talks about the things that if we are doing as missionaries, we can know that we are successful.

After the interview, we went to McDonalds... yes there is a McDonalds here, also a Burger King and Pizza Hut. I think that is the only restaurants that are from the US. The McDonalds here is about 5 times better than in the United States. For a meal of fries, a hamburger and a drink, it was 20 Guaraní, which is pretty pricey in comparison with the other food here. As missionaries however, if we show them our receipt, we get a free ice cream... pretty cool huh?

Also this week I bought a Book of Mormon in Guarani, but I can't say I have tried reading it quite yet. I also ordered two more nametags, one in Guaraní, and another one that is in Spanish, but is magnetic.

Well that's all for this week, once again we have seen the Lord's hand in our work, and know that he is guiding us in the things that we do every day. I know that as we do the things that the Lord asks of us, that he will bless us and direct us in all our paths.

I love you all, and hope you have a great week. Also tell Grandma that I´m sorry I haven't written yet, it costs 9 mil Guaraní to send a letter to the US, and so I would rather not send a whole lot of letters.
-Elder Ryan Griffin

12 October, 2010

HIs Dream was an answer but.....

Ok, sorry, i thought that we weren´t going to be able to email today, but it turns out that i was wrong. Well first things first, I cannot read or reply to emails from anyone but immediate family and grandparents. The only way that I can read the letters from Aleni and Tyler and Kip or any others is if you send them to me via dearelder. Our mission president asked us to only use the email for immediate family, and if we get emails from others, not to read them.

This week has been good, as I said before we got to go to the temple today. It is beautiful inside, but is a little bit smaller than most I have seen. We went through a session of endowments, in Spanish of course. I understood the whole thing, it's amazing how fast you can learn a language if you just trust in the lord. Less than 4 months ago when we watched it in Spanish in the Oquirrh Mountain temple, I didn't understand a thing, and now all of the sudden I can understand and speak it. My companion speaks very little English, and so pretty much all the time except language study we speak all Spanish. There are still times that I get stuck on words, but overall I feel pretty confident about the language. I know that the gift of tongues, and all the gifts of the spirit are real, and that if we earnestly seek them, the Lord will help us with the things that we need. Guarani, however, I still haven't quite picked up.... It's a lot harder than Spanish though. We went to the distribution center after, and I was surprised to find how cheap garments are here. The cost 1 mil Guaraní, which is about 20 cents..... a lot cheaper than in the US. I think I'll be buying some when i am coming back home.

This last Saturday we had a baptism of a 9 year old, who's family had gone inactive, and are now all active after he got baptized. We have a lot of different investigators here that we are working with. We also have members that we work with a lot more here than in my other area. We still don't have a ward mission leader, but we are going to talk to our bishop about giving somebody that calling, because I feel like it will help the ward a lot. One of the members that helps us a lot, went on a mission, here in Paraguay, but when he was on the mission it was Paraguay and Uruguay combined, and only had about 130 missionaries, and that was in 1988-90. In just 20 years now Paraguay alone has two missions, each with about 200 missionaries. It's amazing to see how much the church is growing.

This week we met with a lot of different investigators. We met with one couple named Miguel and Paula. Paula has a testimony and wants to be baptized, but only wants to do it if her husband does. The problem is that her husband likes to drink sometimes, so we talked to them about the importance of the Word of Wisdom, and committed them to keep it, and attend church this coming Sunday. We taught another investigator whose wife is a member, and he was born and raised catholic. He has a problem believing in the Book of Mormon, because he believes that the Bible contains the complete word of God. We talked to him about how there are many churches based off of the bible, but that people interpret it differently, and asked him how can we know which way to translate the bible. We talked to him about how the Book of Mormon helps us to know clearly the way of Jesus Christ, and the way that he wants us to live. He said that he has prayed about the book of Mormon, and he had quite the interesting answer. He said that he had a dream about his father, who is dead. He said his father never accepted any of the missionaries, but that in the dream, his father was holding a Book of Mormon. We told him that this was an answer from God, but he said he wants a clearer answer. We told him to pray again, and we will be meeting with him again later this week. We met with another man, named Juan Carlos, We taught him last week, and we came back this week, he said he felt good about the Book of Mormon, but that he wants to go to church before he gets baptized (which of course we love to hear). We have one investigator who has a date this week to be baptized, and we are teaching him every day this week to make sure everything goes good.

Also in this ward, the teachers are a TON better. The priesthood teacher is the member that went on his mission here, and is a very impressive teacher. Our ward here is great, and I am really looking forward to getting to know the members, and work with them to find new people here. This past week we had 48 people in Sacrament meeting, which is apparently low for our ward.

This Friday, my companion and I get to go to the office to have interviews with the Mission President. I am excited to be able to talk to him, and receive some of the insight that i can from him.

Well I love you guys, and I will talk to you next Monday. T
Cuidense, y tengan un buena semana.
Elder Ryan Griffin

07 October, 2010

Transfer Week

Well first of all, I want to apologize, i forgot that this week was going to be transfers, meaning that we have p-day on Thursday instead of Monday. I will warn you in advance right now, that I’m not going to be emailing this next week because we are going to the temple, and cannot email because it takes us the whole entire day. Also I could not send an email, because we can't do that, we can only email on p-day, so in the future, i won't be able to do that, because we can only do it Thursday after changes.

Well this has been quite the interesting week for me for sure. I have been really trying to think and pray to figure out the things that I need to do differently. I feel like i have been working as hard as I can, and yet haven't felt like I’ve been doing anything. I was praying that I could be able to receive the answer that I needed during conference, and be able to do the things necessary to have better success. Our mission president usually does it that we can only go to the Sunday Morning, and Priesthood session without an investigator. He however changed it so that we could go to every session. Here in Paraguay, most of the members only go to the Sunday Morning session.... which I feel needs to change. Anyway we listened to the whole thing in Spanish, but i didn't really have to hard of a time understanding it. The first two sessions were really good, and i felt like I learned so much, and the priesthood session, as always, was amazing, and I saw a couple friends in the missionary choir that they had singing there. After Saturday though, i still didn't really feel like a had a clear answer yet as to what i need to be doing differently. Sunday morning came around, and during that session my answer came quite clearly..... It was during the talk of President Henry B. Eyring. He talked about the importance of trusting the Lord. I feel like I have had faith in the lord and that he can help me, but the thing i have been lacking all this time... is trust.... trusting that he WILL help me if I am completely obedient, and have the trust in him. I determined that day that from now on during my mission, no matter what happens, I will trust the lord, and trust that whatever is happening or whatever I go through, is for the best. I felt like my answer came so clear, and although i learned many other things from conference that was definitely the biggest lesson I learned.

Anyway we finished conference, and then something happened on Monday morning. My companion called the zone leaders to see if they had gotten the information for the changes, and they had. And apparently the Lord decided he wanted to test me on my commitment of trust, because the zone leaders told us there was something weird with our companionship. Later that day I found out i would be leaving my area Wednesday morning, going to an area in Asuncion. I woke up at 2 that morning after packing until 12 the night before.... yes I only had two hours of sleep. We arrived in Asuncion at 5, and waited in the terminal until 8 for all the rest of the people to arrive. My new companion, is another native, from Panama. He has been on the mission..... 1 transfer more than me. My area now is in an area called Villa Elisa, and my ward is El Alto. I am now actually in a ward, rather than a branch. Our ward has about 60 to 70 people that attend, and it is an actual chapel.... a nice one. Our apartment has 4 elders, 2 who are in our zone, but not in our district. The apartments in Asuncion all have new mattresses, rather than the old ones that we had everywhere else. Also we have two baptisms for this Saturday, and 2 others that have a date. We have a lunch appointment every day, and some dinner appointments. My companion is a lot harder of a worker than my trainer was. With my trainer we would always waste a lot of time just working inefficiently, but here I feel like it is a lot better.

My Spanish is getting a lot better, I sometimes think in Spanish, and other times think in English now, so for the most part I can talk pretty well. I have just been reading the Book of Mormon aloud every day for language study, and it has been helping me to be able to hear how to better pronounce the words, and learn more words.

The food here is pretty much the same as my other area. Every time the people feed us, it is usually one of three things. It's something that is called guiso. The three parts of it is they either serve rice with some little bits of meat, or pasta with the same, or beans with the same. It's quite the variety of food, i know. The other things that we get sometimes is tortillas (the kind here), Sopa de Paraguaya (which sometimes is really good, other times not so much), and Sopa so´o (with meat inside). With every meal they serve either mandioca, or bread, and sometimes both. They usually just give us water with the meal, but every once in a while they give us these drinks that they make here. They take either a fruit or a vegetable, and put in some water and sugar, blend it up, and serve it. I have had it with carrots, grass, pineapple, and orange. The first two may sound gross to you, and you would be right. The other two were pretty good though.

Anyway, i feel like with my new companion things will go a lot better than they did in my last area. I know now that i have to have trust in the Lord, and do all that I can to carry out this work. I love you guys, and I will talk to you again in another week and a half....

Que le vaya bien,
Elder Ryan Griffin

29 September, 2010

It is about the people

Thank you for the support and the help, it definitely helped me feel a lot better. I've been realizing that I need to stop focusing on myself so much, and start focusing on the people. I have wanted people to come to church and be baptized so that I could have a baptism, and I need to be out here to help the people instead. If I go throughout my mission without a single baptism, but can help many people, and have done all I can do, then I have no reason to be disappointed. I have really been figuring out that I need to develop more patience this week. I just came out here expecting to start baptizing right away, forgetting that I wouldn't learn anything if there weren't some hard times here and there. I have also been relying too much on my own knowledge and strength rather than relying on the Lord. But as I have come to figure out this week ¨As to me and my strength, I am nothing¨ there are a lot of things that i still have to learn, but i feel like i am always learning so much every day here.

This week we got a new plaque on our church building. We were walking by as the people were trying to put it up, and so we got to help them put it up there. Now we have a marble one instead of some kind of metal thing that it was before. On Tuesday we ate some empanadas, and then went back to our apartment, and m companion threw up, we still went out for the rest of the day though. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to do some service. There was a sister in Rama 2 (we are Rama 3) that needed help with planting some mandioca. Unfortunately the house was about 7 miles from our house, so we got to walk all the way there, and hour and a half later we finally got there and started helping. We cut down the other plants with a machete because it has the seeds in it. We then got to carry them to another spot to be planted, but the seeds make it so the plant cuts up your arms, so that was fun. Finally we cut up the pieces of the plant and planted them. After that she fed us some food. Then my companions sickness got worse, and he had no energy, so we went back a little early in the day. The next day, he was feeling really sick again, and so we had to stay in for most of that day. On Friday we had our only full normal day without anything else and taught and found a lot of people. We were walking and a drunk guy called us over, we went, and he invited us in, and we taught his family, and set up an appointment to return. On Saturday, we had another service, in our Rama, cleaning the school by our house. We did that for about 3 hours and then finally got to go out and teach. We had a baptism on Saturday as well, an 8 year old. Her mother jsut hadn´t done anything to get her baptized yet, and so we set everything up, and got to clean out and fill up the font, and then i got to give a talk for the baptism, and then my companion baptized her. On Sunday, once again we didn´t have any investigators show up for church, I went with a member to go and try to get people, but nobody was there. After church we were walking by a tree, that had a bees nest in it, and apparently we walked too close, because the bees attacked us, and we both got stung in the neck.

It rained a ton this week as well, which is really fun for us, because it makes all the roads really hard to walk on, especially when it´s dark. Both me and my companion stepped in a couple puddles during the week, and my companion slipped and fell and got mud all over his pants and shirt. We finally got our shower fixed, so no more having to take only cold showers, which has been really nice. That´s about all for this week, the work is still hard here, but I know that i need to just have the patience. Thanks again for the help and for your guys’ support. The address is a little bit different than the one that was in my papers, but this one is faster for mailing me stuff.

Elder Ryan Griffin
2881 del maestro c/ caballero
barrio herrera

22 September, 2010

Commitment Problems

Well this has been an interesting week for sure. We have been teaching an investigator that I told you about earlier. Her name is Nilsa Benites. She has a strong testimony about the church, and loves having us come over to teach her more. We committed her to come to church however, and she didn´t come. Her 9 year old son did though. We went and talked to her, and she wanted to come, but that she couldn´t that day, and probably can't next week. We taught her that the only way to strengthen her testimony, is by showing her faith by sacrificing other things to come to church, and that we want her to do everything she can to come this next week, since the next week after that is general Conference.

We have another investigator, who is the son of a member. Her other son is already a member, and her 8 year old daughter wants to be baptized. Her son is like 20, and has had three baptismal interviews, and then backed out at the last second. We haven´t been able to talk to him since that, because he is only available on Saturday, and Sunday.

We have a lot of other people as well that we are teaching right now, we usually get about 5 lessons or so a day. Some days are really hard, because a lot of our appointments fall through, and then we have to try and find other new people to teach. Usually the people we find, act like they are interested, and then tell us there house is ¨over there¨ Which usually gives away that they aren´t interested.

It´s been hard going 4 weeks now and not having a single person that we have helped thus far. I feel like we have the potential to be baptizing so many more people than we are, but it´s just not happening. I have been trying to figure out the things that i´m doing wrong, and fix them, using the scriptures, preach my gospel, and the Liahona. I feel like it´s hard to keep faith that the people will come to church, or that they will keep their commitments, because they usually don´t..... but I think that is more our fault than theirs. I´m still trying to do everything i can to be able to serve the lord to the best of my ability, but some days I just want to sit in the apartment because i get so exhausted. I know the lord is just testing my patience, and that i need to keep my faith strong though.

Today, me and all the group that came with me got to go to Asuncion for P-day.... we had to go back to sign our documents... again. for some reason they changed the system right after we left, so we had to take a trip back there to go sign stuff. I´m 3 hours out of Asuncion, so i got to wake up at 2:45, and get on a bus to go there. I had to stand for two of the 3 hours because it was so crowded, and we have to pay for the travel up to 50 mil Guarani. We got there, signed the stuff, and then 4 hours later, finally got back on a bus to come back. Now, I’m here emailing with about 2 hours of actual P-day this week.

Well, i love you all tons, thanks for the letters, and no Dear elder is not faster, because we only get mail on Mondays anyway. Email is better for you guys, unless you want me responding a week after you send the letters. Anyway, thanks again for the support, and keep the people here in your prayers. Thanks a ton!

Elder Ryan Griffin

14 September, 2010

Teaching, Culture and the Food

Well it has been a good week again. The work here is definitely hard, and I still can´t say everything i want to say in Spanish yet, but i am getting a lot closer to being there. The Spanish is coming along really fast, but it´s hard when they talk in Guarani, because i don´t understand anything they say when they start speaking in that.


We have a couple of progressing investigators that we have been teaching this week.

One is Nilsa Benites, her husband left her, she had 6 children, two of which are over 8 years old. We have taught her about 5 times or so now, and she loves meeting with us. This last visit, on Saturday, she said that she feels really good when we teach her, and when she reads the Book of Mormon, but she still is confused about whether it is the true church or not. we invited her to come to church, and testified that if she puts forth the real effort to gain a testimony, that the lord will answer her prayers.

Another investigator is Mariella, who is the girlfriend of a less-active member. The less-active member however has a wife in Argentina whom he has to divorce. Then we can be able to baptize her, so we are still working and praying to know what to do with that.

Another one is Lida, who had a baptismal date for Saturday, but we couldn´t keep it. She also is living with her boyfriend, who is a member, and she wants to be baptized. They have to either be married, or seperate for her to be baptized however. We taught them the Law of Chastity on Wednesday, and asked that they pray for help on what to do. We still haven´t heard how it went yet.

Another one is Lilliana, who is the girlfriend of the grandson of Hermana Ursulina, who is a member. Her daughter also is a member. We have been teaching Lilliana about 2 or 3 times a week, and she is receptive to the teachings, but we can´t seem to get her to go to church.

This week we committed 6 people to go to church, and then come Sunday.... we didn´t have one investigator show up. For some reason the people here say they will do things, but it´s hard to get them to actually do the things. We need to do a better job at letting them know the importance of going to church, and that they need to use their agency to do that.

Lucy, the woman that we were guided to the second day i was here, we still haven´t had a chance to teach again. Every time we go by there she goes in the house, or something else, and doesn´t want to listen to us again.


There is a game called Piki that the people play here. It is very similar to volleyball, but you can´t use your hands. They only use their heads, chest, feet, and thigh to hit the ball. The people here are really good at keeping a rally going.

Instead of waving here, people give the thumbs up. This is pretty much the same as waving would be in America, as to say hi.

Everybody here rides motorcycles. It is pretty much their family car here. We have seen up to 4 people all on the same motorcycle at a time, all holding groceries. They have kids that are really young that always drive them too, I think the youngest I have seen so far is about 8 years old. We unfortunately live on a corner, of a highway here. There are constantly motorcycles driving by, and loud music blasting, which makes it difficult to sleep

There are little corner stores, called dispensas. They sell food and other stuff that can also be found at the supermarket. We helped our Branch Presidents wife set one up at their house, and helped them paint it as well. Every dispensa also sells drinks in these glass bottles; they are one Guaraní, which is about 20 cents. You return the bottle, and that is why it is so cheap, but it´s quite nice when it´s a hot day outside.

The weather here is always changing. One day it is burning hot, and humid, and the next it is freezing cold, still humid. Our shower only puts out water of the temperature it is at, which in the mornings is usually nice and cold. It takes some getting used to, having to take a cold shower, but it´s not so bad anymore.


The food here is interesting for sure. They eat way different here than we do in America. Here are some of the things I have tried

Cafe soja- soy coffee is what it´s translated out to, but it is actually not bad for you like coffee, it tastes about like what coffee smells like, so it´s kind of weird, but not too bad. It is just milk, with the powder put in.

Tortillas- Definitely not your typical tortilla here. It is small enough to fit in the hand, but it is really good. It has eggs, flower, water, and lettuce.

Halls- Yes, the people here do in fact eat cough drops as a candy, quite strange i must say.

Milk- comes in a pouch rather than a carton, which makes it hard to use, but it tastes good

Well that´s all for today, love you guys, and I’ll talk to you again next week
Elder Ryan Griffin

01 September, 2010

This is my companion.

These are pictures of my area and what the roads look like.

26 August, 2010

First meal in Paraguay is Chinese

Well the past couple of days have been quite interesting for sure. We only get a p-day this Thursday because we are new, but they are usually on Mondays. We have been told however, that we are not supposed to chat with our parents during our time to email, but rather just send emails saying how things are going. The first day here, we met the mission president and his wife in the airport. We then took some pictures in front of the airport, and then loaded our stuff up and left. When we were in the Argentina airport, we were joined by 4 missionaries going to the same mission who were natives in the Argentina MTC. Anyway, we drove to the mission home, and on the way, every single street had people selling stuff, or trying to wash windows... all sorts of things to try and get money. There are a couple of paved roads, but most of them are cobble stones, and way bumpy. We got to the mission home, where we went to the bathroom, got some drinks, and then went to the temple. It’s right near a really busy street, and is a lot smaller than it looks, but it is beautiful nonetheless. We took some pictures there, and stayed for a little while, not on the inside unfortunately. We then went out to eat... at a Chinese restaurant.... kind of an unexpected thing there. The food was really good, it was Chinese with a Paraguayan twist to it.

After that, we went back to the mission home to get the rundown of everything in our mission. Our schedule is 30 minutes different than most peoples´ because we wake up at 6, and go to bed at 10. We also aren’t allowed to wear rings in our mission because they are a distraction to the people, so i had to take that off. We receive $750000 a month.... too bad guarani´s aren’t worth as much as an American dollar. 5000 guarani is about a dollar, so we get about the equivalent of 140 US dollars every month here.

During that we had our interviews with the mission president. He and his wife are both really cool. they are in charge of 195 missionaries, and 95 companionships. There was a total of 18 new missionaries who came in with us.

After we were finished with interviews, we got some Paraguayan style hamburgers.... which is actually a burrito, except they don’t have burritos down here. They were pretty good, the meat definitely isn’t the best of the meats that they use down here. After we were done with all that, we went to the mission president’s house, and had a testimony meeting, and got to eat some carrot cake. President Callan gave all of us a paperback book of Mormon that he told us to read, and mark every scripture that talks about Jesus.

After we were done there, we were driven to a hotel that we stayed the night at. They have the weird toilet things that you can wash yourself after you are done going to the bathroom, which i also have in my apartment... I still have yet to use one though. When we woke up in the morning, we ate breakfast there, which was orange juice, yogurt, and a sandwich. The orange juice was amazing, as was the yogurt, although here it is really watery. The sandwich was good, but a little dry because it had no sauces on it. After that we drove back to the mission home to meet our companions. We went into the chapel in the church right by the mission home, and one by one he read off who we were going to be with. My companion is Elder Escarate, from Chile. He speaks some English, but not too much. He has been an excellent trainer, and is way nice.

After that we got dropped off with our companions at the bus station, and got taken three hours out of the city of Asuncion into coronel oviedo which is right in the center of Paraguay. I had time to unpack most of my stuff, and then we went out tracting for a little while. My comp is the district leader, so he had to go and do some interviews. We went over to the house of the Zone leaders who are also in our district. They are also both native, and so I’ve been completely surrounded by Spanish for 24 hours. It sometimes gives me a headache trying to interpret everything, but i feel like it is coming pretty well still. We went by the chapel that is in there area, and there were two guys sitting outside, we talked to them, and they were there to repair the baptismal font. We talked to them for a little while about the church and other stuff which was a real good experience. After all that we went back, and went to sleep in the zone leaders apartment. We woke up this morning, did personal study, companion study, and language study. Then we went to the church to play some soccer with the district. Then we went back, and now we’re here on the computers.

Well that’s about all that has happened since I got here, it’s been nice and exciting, sometimes a little overwhelming. My companion has been here for 22 months, so he will be leaving after this next transfer.

19 August, 2010

Everything has to fit in 2 bags

We went to the travel office on Tuesday, and found out all the Elders going to Paraguay have our visas, so we are good to go there. We also found out that our carry-on can only be 11 pounds instead of the usual 40, and my bag already weighs 40 pounds, so pretty much i can only take the bag completely empty. The other two bags have to be under 50 pounds each still. Also we have a personal item, but it has to be small enough to fit underneath the chair...

We had a devotional and Walter F. Gonzales and his wife came to speak with us. It was really good, and they talked about how they got converted, and how missionaries need to teach the people rather than teaching the lessons.

Well we have American Airlines at first, which has 40 pounds, but then when we fly from Buenos Aires to Asuncion, that plane has the restriction of only 11 pounds. I'm not sure yet, but I’m definitely going to have to be sending some stuff home, because there is no way I’m going to fit everything only in those two bags....

17 August, 2010

Travel plans and following the Spirit

Well I got my travel plans on Friday. We get to travel 31 hours in total. We leave next Monday August 23, and we leave to the travel office at 4 in the morning. Our first flight is out of Salt Lake at 7:20, and arrive in Chicago at 11:10. Then we have a 3 hour layover until 2:05 there. We leave there then, and fly into Miami at 6:20 pm, and have a 2 hour layover, until 8:30 when we fly out of there. After that we fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina at 6:15 the next morning. Once again we have a 3 hour layover, until 9:40, and then we finally fly into Asuncion Paraguay at 10:20 am on August 24. We have 14 people who are all going to on the same fights and are in our mission. I think during the layovers, I can call you, but I’m not really sure how it works, so be ready during those times for a call, and I’m assuming you want me to call dad's cell phone?

So this week we had a fire side, and a bunch of musicians came to speak. All three of the guys had written one of the hymns in the current hymn book. The first one was Stephen Jones, who wrote hymn 128. The second one was Thomas Durham who wrote hymn 171, which is with humble hearts. The last guy wrote hymn number 220, which is Lord I would follow thee. It was really cool to be able to hear them speak about the hymns, and what the hymn that they wrote means to them.

Also this week, we had an investigator for our last TRC that was from Peru. He spoke really fast Spanish, but I understood most of it. I talked to him and his wife after for a little while in Spanish. They said they have lived here for 1 year now, and that they used to live in Lima Peru. I told them my brother went there, and they thought that was pretty cool.

One other thing that happened this week was a spiritual experience. I had a couple promptings during the week that i needed to ask one of my companions if he needed a blessing. I thought it was kind of weird so I put it off until this Sunday. I could tell he was struggling a little bit, so I decided to interview both of my companions, starting with Elder B. We had a good interview, and then I went and got Elder N. I asked him if he needed anything from me this week, which he said just help with Spanish. After that I told him that I had a prompting that I needed to ask if he needed a blessing, to which he said he had been wondering who to ask for a blessing, and that he did need one. He then told me that he has been struggling because he doesn't feel like he has had a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, and that he doesn't know if he is feeling the spirit, and then said he doesn't even know if he should be on a mission right now. I'm not sure exactly what I said to him, but i know that the Spirit directed what I said to what Elder N. needed to hear. I told him that the Lord called him out here on his mission right now, and that it is not a mistake. I also told him that he will receive an answer that he needs. Anyway, it was just really cool to be able to work through the spirit to help someone else.

Also this week I am doing a complete English Fast. I started it out yesterday, and started with a real fast to begin. One other Elder in our District is doing it with me, Elder Van Mondfrans. Anyway, I feel like doing this will help me learn the Spanish that i need to know before I leave the MTC to be able to teach the people to the best of my ability.

Lesson on the Atonement

Well everything is still going well in the MTC, we got to host the new Elders that were coming in yesterday which was really fun to be able to take them around to their dorms and stuff. While I was helping one of the elders, we were in his apartment, and just randomly the cover over the light fell off....

We did an activity with my teacher who left last week on his last day he was here. He gave us all a bunch of snickers, and then after we had eaten them, he told us that each of them had a price on them.... someone that he had chosen already had to do 10 pushups for each of the wrappers that we had. We all had to one by one go up to the Elder, and give him our wrappers and ask him to do pushups for us. It was really hard to watch him have to struggle through all of them, and I wanted to just do the pushups myself. This is just like the atonement in so many ways. We can't take back the things that we have done wrong in this life, and Christ had to suffer for all of the sins and mistakes we have committed. It really made me think a lot about the savior and the love that he has for each and everyone of us, to be willing to suffer for each of us. It really made me want to do all I can on my mission to do the best i can, and try to show the gratitude that i have for what the savior has done for me. We had a testimony meeting after, and all of us got up and shared our feelings. It was probably one of the most spiritual experiences i have had here in the MTC.

We started this new game with our class, where one person is supposed to be a native, and they aren't supposed to speak any Spanish during the day, and everyone is supposed to guess who they think the native is. It has been good, because everyone is trying to speak Spanish more.

We should get our travel plans sometime this week. We are hoping that none of us have problems that are going down to Paraguay, but none of us have heard whether or not we have our visas or not.

Is there any way that you guys can send me the address that I will have down in Paraguay? I believe it is in the mission papers somewhere, and I would like to have it before I go down there, so that I can tell people what my address is going to be when i am down there.

Sometimes I get stuck on a conjugation, but that all just comes with practice. We had one of our teachers leave this week, and before he left, he interviewed me and challenged me to speak only Spanish for the entire last week here, and I told him that I would.... so that will definitely be hard, but I think it will help me be more prepared to go out in the field

No, there usually isn't, but our teacher is getting married, and the other one has a sister getting married, and the one that left before had a sister getting married..... I think the summer is just a popular time to get married. We haven't had any general authorities for a while, including the 70, they are all on vacation, so all we get is the MTC people pretty much, and every once in a while a emeritus 70

05 August, 2010

Keeping a good attitude helps in life

Well nothing new has really happened since Tuesday..... it's been raining here for the past 2 days, which makes it seem dark all day. I became senior companion on Wednesday, since we had to rotate it with three of us. In class we finally learned the past subjunctive, so now we have learned everything there is to know in spanish, now it's just a matter of being able to use it in sentences and speaking with it. It definitely takes a lot of work, but I can tell that the gift of tongues is definitely taking effect on some of us. The people in the class that say they can't learn Spanish, or constantly complain about it have a much harder time learning it than those of us who try to keep a positive attitude about it. That's how almost everything is in life though, if you have a good attitude, and believe that something can be done, and work hard at accomplishing that thing, then more often than not, you will be able to complete it. This week in the TRC we have to teach the Plan of Salvation for the first time in Spanish. The investigator also has a problem with la Palabra de Sabuduria, so we get to try and incorporate both of those in the lesson. For the task we are giving directions of how to get to the church, which for the most part is pretty easy.

I still don't know if I’ve gotten my visa yet or not, but our departure date is supposed to be the 24 of August, so I’m hoping that it gets here before that time. Mexico and Argentina have some major problems with getting visas; some people have had their visas denied for going to Mexico. I can't believe how fast the time is already going by. It seems like just yesterday that i got dropped off here at the MTC, and now next thing i know i only have 3 weeks left of being here. (hopefully)

Well other than that nothing new has really happened since the last time that I emailed you, so unless you email back, Adios until Tuesday.

03 August, 2010

A body of flesh and eggs?

This week has been good, we have learned everything there is to know about Spanish except for past subjunctive as of right now. We are supposed to be learning that pretty soon i believe. We had our TRC appointment yesterday, and we got this lady who is from Honduras. She doesn't speak any English, and has a really thick accent, so it was kind of hard to understand her at first, but it got easier throughout the lesson. We taught to her needs really well, and covered the main points of the lesson really well. I was the only one of us that could really understand what she was saying, so I usually got to be the one that answered her questions, but overall the lesson went really well. We get to teach the Plan of Salvation this week, which should be fun. There are always some funny things that people say when they accidentally replace words in Spanish. Two Elders were teaching our companionship, and they were teaching the Plan of Salvation in Spanish. One of the elders meant to say we have a body of flesh and bones, which is: Tenemos un cuerpo de carne y huesos. He, however, said huevos instead of huesos, which changes the meaning to we have a body of flesh and eggs.... also during our lesson one of my companions, Elder Beckett, tried to say that he knows that Jesus Christ is his brother, which would be Jesucristo es mi hermano, but instead said Jesucristo es mi hombre.... meaning Jesus Christ is my man. Anyway, it's kind of funny when people say the wrong word, just because it makes the sentence sound really weird, but you can usually tell what they were meaning to say, so it's not a big deal.

We get to go to the temple again today, which will be really nice. It's amazing how much better the week goes when you get to go to the temple. We have about three weeks left as of today, which is crazy. We'll be getting our flight plans this next week, and then as long as we get our visas we'll head out. None of the Elders going to Paraguay have been told if we got our visas yet. None of us know if we do yet or not, so hopefully we have them, and they just haven't told us that they are here yet.

My companions and I have started a new game that we have been doing this week. We bet on how many letters we will get as a companionship, and how ever many we are off, we have to do 25 push ups for each letter off. One of the days I was 8 off, and so i ended up having to do 200 push ups that night.... it was nice and tiring for sure.

I caught a cold this last week for a little while. I pretty much only had it for a day, and then it went away, but the day that i had it, I was tired all day, and started getting a headache and stuff. Needless to say, i ended up going to bed at about 9:45 that night, and when i woke up i felt a ton better. I pretty much only felt really sick after I had played soccer.... yeah I know it's probably not the greatest idea to play soccer when I'm sick, but I did anyway.

I got a letter from Jessica Hanzel yesterday, and it had this bracelet from Paraguay in it. Apparently there was a dance festival thing in Springville this week, and people from a bunch of different countries came to it. Somehow, Paraguay was one of the countries that was in it, and i guess they did a dance with bottles on their heads and stuff, and she said it was really cool. They also were selling stuff from each of the countries after, which is where the bracelet thing came from.... too bad we can't wear bracelets here.... I will probably just use it as a bookmark or something like that.

Well my time is pretty much up, so I will talk to you again on Thursday. Love you all tons!

Elder Ryan Griffin

29 July, 2010

The week is better when I can go to the Temple

Well nothing really exciting has happened the past two days, except we went to the TEC yesterday and talked with a brother who went to Paraguay on his mission. He told us we will have the castillano accent to an extent. We make the "j" sound when we say "y's" so in other words it would be pronounced "jo tambien" rather than "yo tambien." The double L however just makes the normal sound, so we don't have it nearly as weird as in Argentina. He also said it's so hot there, that we will probably be wearing hats when we are out tracting and stuff, he said it gets up to 120 degrees + whatever humidity.... Anyway, he said we'll be eating a lot of rice, not so many beans, a lot of yucca, and pretty much no fish. He also told us that the temple is right on the border of both the missions, so we will be able to go there during our mission. Iguassu falls is apparently in our mission, right on the border, but he said he doesn't know if we will be allowed to go see it or not. He said the place there is like outer darkness, but the people are celestial. He also gave us advice to teach about prospering, because the people down there have a hard time seeing how the gospel can help them unless it gives them free food or something.

We finally got to learn about the subjunctive tense yesterday in our class. Now i know every single tense there is, so now it's just a matter of learning how to use them all. Well other than that, nothing really new has happened. You guys will have to do some dear elders or something if you want longer emails, because i don't know what else to say...

Oh, i forgot to tell you guys that the temple finally opened back up down here this week. We got to go through and do a session this last Tuesday. It's amazing how much better the week goes when you can go to the temple.

Well I love you all, and I hope all is going well back home!

Elder Ryan Griffin

27 July, 2010

Teaching the first lesson in Spanish

Well there's not a whole lot that is new as of today. We pretty much have the exact same schedule every day, so it gets kind of mundane sometimes. Anyway, this week we got a new district leader and zone leaders. Elder Van Mondfrans is our new district leader, and Elder Slaugh and Elder Herbert are the new zone leaders. Other than that there is nothing really new that has happened in our district lately

Also this week, we got to teach the first lesson in Spanish for the first time. We taught it like 3 times before we went and did it in the TRC. Anyway, for the most part now, i don't have trouble forming sentences, and can say quite a bit, and I’m slowly getting faster at forming them in my head. My companions both have a little bit harder of a time forming sentences, so our lesson went really slow, and we didn't quite have enough time to be able to finish it, but they both did a lot better. We always get asked questions by the investigators, and usually I am the only one of us three that picks up what they ask, so usually i just tell my companions what the investigator said, so that they can try and answer the question.

When we were at lunch two days ago, we met this older guy and his wife and kids. We started talking to them, and figured out that he was the previous mission President in Paraguay... anyway, we talked to them about all the stuff, and they said it is way pretty down there. They also told us that there is red dirt, and that once it gets into our white shirts, it doesn't come out. They also told us that to send packages to Paraguay, that you should send a shoebox that is under 5 pounds, because otherwise it has to go through customs, and sometimes the missionaries have had to pay up to 300 dollars to get it back. They also told us that in our mission, we will be spending most of our time outside of the city, which means lots of Guarani... I'm finally going to start feeling comfortable with Spanish and then get down there and not understand a thing, because they will all be speaking Guarani.

This week we hit our half way mark in the MTC, i can't believe I'm already more than half way done with being here. It goes by so fast some weeks, but at the same time I feel like i have literally been in here forever.

Well that's about all that's new with me, so I’ll talk to you on Thursday. I love you all tons, and thanks for all the amazing support you guys give me!

Elder Ryan Griffin

22 July, 2010

8 bowls of ice cream

Well I'm glad to hear everyone is doing alright. Life here is still going really good. We just got another new district in our zone this week, so now we have 5 districts in our zone. Yesterday i played soccer for gym, and I ended up scoring three goals on the other team, but my team still lost, because our defense was doing terrible. The soccer is pretty fun, but sometimes there are way too many people, and there are too many people that think that it's football, and try to tackle people since they don't know what they're doing, and that always gets a little bit frustrating.

Every Wednesday they have ice cream for lunch and dinner, which is really nice, but yesterday they had some personal pizza things that were really good as well. During lunch, another Elder, Elder Herbert, and I decided to have a competition to see who could eat more ice cream before lunch ended. So after already eating a pizza, I ended up eating 8 full bowls of ice cream, and he ate about 5 and a half, because he kept putting ice cream under the bowls to try and win. Anyway, I felt a little bit sick after that, but somehow I kept it all in. I ended up not eating anymore during dinner, since it didn't even look remotely edible to me after eating 8 bowls earlier in the day.

Also last week our district played the younger district in volleyball, and we had our whole district, and they picked their six people, and barely won two out of three times. Anyway, they were talking about how they beat us, and so we decided we are going to have a rematch against them tomorrow, and we are going to just pick six people from our district so that we can actually beat them.

On another note, we had an English fast yesterday, which only lasted until about lunch or so; because so many people just end up going back to English, and then the rest of us don't just want to be speaking Spanish to them, so we usually just end it as well. We get to teach the first lesson in Spanish this week, which is definitely going to be interesting. It's going to be hard, since it's already hard enough to do it in English, but now we will be limited to being able to say the things we know in Spanish. I know that the Lord will help us know what to say though, as long as we study, and do all that we can do.

Well on Tuesday I ended up writing and sending out 7 letters to people, so that was fun writing tons of letters. Also the laundry is a lot less stressful now, for some reason the first week we were here, it was like way packed, and just stressful trying to get everything done.

Did you guys get the letter I sent with the checks in them? I'm hoping so, because I sent them Tuesday, so they should be getting there pretty soon.

I haven't heard anything about my visa yet, but I’m sure it will be here pretty soon.

Well, anyway, the Spanish is going well, the food is pretty good, and I am feeling pretty healthy (besides yesterday after eating all the ice cream). I hope all is still going well back home, I love you all, and I'll talk to you again on Tuesday.

20 July, 2010

Gained 4 pounds with my testimony

Querido Familia,

Well, it's been another interesting week this week. My leg is all the way healed now, so i have been playing soccer again, and it hasn't had any more problems. Well since last time I was able to email, one of my teachers, Hermana Lakip, had a family emergency that she had to go back home for (in Georgia) and so now we have a new teacher in place of her, until she gets back the last week that we are here. The new teacher is Hermana Chinn, and no she is not Chinese, and neither is her husband (we all had to ask that to make sure) She is a really good teacher, and we have already learned a lot from her.

We have had a couple of English fasts the past two weeks. Our first one lasted until about lunch until people started giving up on speaking Spanish. This last one (on Saturday) lasted past dinner, and worked out really well. We set new goals yesterday for the week, and we decided we are going to be doing English fasts on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.... so pretty much only two days of English this week. Our class is one of the fastest learning, because there are two classes ahead of us that still haven't completed a full English fast. Anyway my Spanish is coming along well, i can form pretty much any sentence i want in my head... even though it takes a really long time sometimes. I had an interview with Hermano Kress last week, and he told me that I am one of the fastest learning people in the class, but that he doesn't want me to just study by myself all the time, and get ahead of everyone else. He had me set a goal to try and help other people study/learn for at least 30 minutes in the day. One thing I have been doing a lot is reading out of Predicad Mi Evangelio lately so that i can learn Spanish that way. Yesterday, I had one of my companions and another Elder in the district do it with me, and even though I had to go a little slower than I usually do, I know I learned a lot more from doing that, then I would have just doing it by myself. My teacher also told me that the best goals that you can set are those where you are helping other people.

We had a TRC appointment yesterday, where we are supposed to help people move, talk about there family, and then teach them how to pray, all in Spanish. We did that part pretty easy, but then we had to come back to teach the lesson. We were supposed to teach the Plan of Salvation, and talk about the Word of Wisdom in it. It definitely wasn't one of our better lessons so far. We were really jumbled up, and didn't teach with unity or with the spirit very well. I think part of our problem, is that we have had a couple of arguments this week, and so we sat down after, and talked about what we need to do differently so that we can all feel, and teach with the spirit better.

I can't believe how fast the time is going here, I have already been here 4 weeks, and we get another new district in our zone tomorrow. It's really weird how the older districts really look like they are older than us, and the younger districts really look like they are younger than us. I don't know if it's just a mental thing or not. Well Sister Rasmussen (Aleni) sent me a letter saying she is heading out next week I think, crazy! I can't believe how fast and slow the time goes by here, it's quite a weird sensation.

Well I got a letter from Grandma a couple days ago, I also got one from Tyler, Dana, Melissa, and Devin. It's amazing how much letters make your day better when you are out here. I just get so used to the same things every day.... class, breakfast, class, lunch, class, dinner, then MDT.... pretty much the same every day. Getting letters is just nice because it actually gives some contact with the outside world. I really do love it here though; it has been a great experience while being able to learn a language and the gospel at the same time.

I keep on eating a ton of food, usually about two full plates or more for each meal.... but I’ve only gained about 4 pounds or so while I’ve been here... kind of disappointing. We have talked to a bunch of people that have been to Paraguay, and they say that in the summer, it gets up to 110 degrees, and with humidity, it makes it more like 125... sounds like fun huh? They also said that most people who go down there for missions lose weight, which is definitely not what i want to do, guess I’m going to have to eat a ton. I've heard some mixes of people who have said in Paraguay they do and don't speak Castillano (the j sound in place of the double l). so i don't know if i will be or not, but i guess I’ll know in a month or so. Well I’ll talk to you next Monday, farewell

Mucho amor,
Elder Ryan Griffin