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

Elder Griffin with Sisar Rasmussen and Taylor. Ex Elder Taylor's short visit to the MTC

13 July, 2010

Seeing my brother for 30 min. in 2 years

Well one of my companions and I decided we were going to email early today, so i am up in our computer lab instead. Is there any way you can try and send me the addresses off of face book that i told you about last week? I wanted to try and write some people today.... I'll be on this Thursday, so if you could send it by then

Well I heard that Spain won the world cup... I'm sure Ali was happy about that.

Seeing Taylor was really nice, I can't believe I got to talk to him for 30 minutes, and then after that we don't see each other for another 2 years. Thanks for sending the stuff with Taylor by the way, my razor was just about dead, so that was really helpful

Well the language is coming along really well, we've only been here 3 weeks and I'm already about caught up to an elder that has had 5 years of Spanish in high school before he came here. I can pretty much form the sentences that i want to, although it still takes a little longer than i would want to take to say something. I am getting a lot better at being able to hear what people are saying when they talk in Spanish to me, except i don't think i could understand anything that Taylor was trying to say to me when he came down here and started talking to me. Other than that though, my Spanish is getting better, and I keep on trying to add more detail, and stuff to my prayers and testimonies when i say them. We've learned present, future, preterit, imperfect, and conditional tenses, so i still have a bunch more to learn.

We started teaching the plan of salvation this week, which was kind of hard at first. It's really hard to try and simplify it down after all the things that we know about it. We taught it in the TRC yesterday and it went pretty good, but the lady that was there that we were teaching told us a story about her experience with the plan of salvation, because she had a near death experience, and the spirit was like way overwhelming, and all three of us were crying by the end, since we have all had grandparents that have died.
We have a Spanish tutor that we have gone to a couple times, just to go over some of the stuff in Spanish, and his name is hermano Clark, anyway, he was talking about Kenneth Cope, and then said something about his sister not making as much money off of singing as he does. We asked who his sister is, and apparently is Jessie Clark Funk.... which was kind of crazy. Anyway, in our district we keep on finding all these connections that we have, and i keep realizing how small of a world it is here. On Sunday we had a devotional... which they never tell us who is going to be there or anything, but we when there, and it ended up being Elder Dallin H. Oak's daughter. He and his wife were both there, and so that was pretty cool. Anyway, she has been playing the violin since she was like 4, and she has been playing and making CD's for a while now, and so she did the devotional, and she would talk about an experience, and then play a song on the violin for a little while. She was amazing, and had a piano accompanying her, but the spirit was way strong, and I think I learned more during that devotional than some of the other ones we have had. It's amazing how much music alone can teach and inspire you.

My leg is pretty much all the way healed now, I have been staying off of it for the most part this past week or so with just playing basketball instead of soccer.

08 July, 2010

E-mail twice a week

So it turns out that i can email you guys on Thursdays too because we get our P-day cut short having to do a service project. I'm glad to hear that the FBI clearance stuff came, that was a lot sooner than i expected it to come. I guess the Lord really wants me to get out there in time and not waste time somewhere else. Well on Tuesday Robert K. Dellenbach of the Quorum of the 70 came and gave a devotional with his wife. He Talked about the book of Mormon and a bunch of other stuff. It was a really powerful talk, and he did really well. Yesterday we had more new elders coming in, and we got a new district in our zone, they are going to Nicaragua, and Guatemala. It's crazy that we aren't the new elders anymore, i feel like we're still the younger ones here. Well I heard Taylor is going to be coming in like an hour i think. They said Sis. Rasmussen can come and see him too, which will be nice. Yesterday we learned about how to use indirect and direct object pronouns, so now i can speak Spanish a little bit better. It's definitely coming along well, and I’m being able to form my own sentences now, although it is a little bit limited by my vocabulary. I keep on memorizing as many words as I can, and the Lord is definitely blessing me with a good memory to be able to remember things really easy.

06 July, 2010

Pulled muscle but scored a goal

Hola! Well the Spanish is going really well, i can pretty much understand people that are speaking to me in Spanish, and can usually form the sentences to reply to them. The Spanish has been coming amazingly fast, probably in part because i memorize about 40 words a day, so my vocabulary is increasing really fast. We have learned almost all of the tenses for conjugating, and now i can say most things that i want to.

I’ve been playing soccer here, and one of the times that i kicked it, i kicked too hard, and pulled a muscle (but it did score) Anyway, me being the competitive person that I am, I played with it like 4 more times, and now it hurts too bad to even try, because it started hurting when I am even walking now. Don't worry though, it's feeling better now, but I’m not going to be playing much more soccer for a while.

We had a fireside thing and Sis. Rasmussen (Aleni) played the piano for a musical number with some other people in her district. Oh, and i finally got her package to her, even though it took a while.

On July 4th, we had a devotional that night, until about 10 that talked about the founding fathers, and how they helped to restore the gospel, and then after that, we got to go outside and watch the fireworks from the stadium of fire, it's amazing how much every little thing out of the ordinary day here seems so cool. I can't believe I’ve already been here two weeks, it's crazy how slow and fast it goes by at the same time.

My companions and I had another TRC appointment, where we teach lessons, and contact people for practice. We had to go an hour earlier than we expected, so when we were contacting, my companions didn't know what to say, so i had to keep on coming up with questions to ask, and i was the only one who understood what she was saying, so i had to tell them after what she had said. After that though, we went and taught a lesson, and it was our best one we've done. I felt the spirit so strong, and this time i had the First Vision memorized, and as i recited it to the investigator i felt the spirit so strong that i started to tear up a little bit. I have been amazed at how much people in my district and zone just sit around and don't do anything during MDT time, because I always feel like I have so much to study, and so much that i can do. I know that as I use every second that I have in the mission, that the Lord has been blessing me greatly with the language and the spirit.

One thing i do like about my zone is that they do this thing after dinner where we all go and Hie to Kolob. We go in a room, and we just listen to someone play Hie To Kolob, and it is so relaxing, and brings the spirit a ton. The food here isn't fantastic, but i eat a ton, since i can't ever leave food on my plate.

I heard Paraguay lost, our teacher was giving us updates on the World Cup, so I knew what was going on. Too bad...

Tell Ali that Sarah Judd (I think that's her name) works here, she serves food, and one day she asked me if I knew Ali and Jeni, and she said that she played soccer with Ali I think.

Tell Taylor that the MTC has been fantastic, everyone says they can't wait till they get out of here, but I love it here, and even though I'm excited to get out in the field, I am enjoying my time here as well, so I’m not really counting down the days or anything. I'll try writing Taylor a letter in Spanish this week. I'm glad you guys enjoyed Trek though, sounds like lots of fun.

Gracias! I love you guys a ton, and I hope things are going well for all of you.

Love, Elder Ryan Griffin

01 July, 2010

Need Socks

Hola! The MTC has been really good. The first day was really long, but now the days are seeming a lot less long as i get used to them. I have two companions, yes a threesome, and there names are Elder Beckett and Elder Nelson. We have a district of 11, 7 of which are going to Paraguay, and 4 going to Argentina. Elder Richards is not even in my district, and there is another 8 in a different district that are going to the same mission. I've seen and talked to Aleni (my cousin) a couple times, but i haven't had a chance to get her the stuff, seeing as i can't carry it around everywhere i go. I'm learning Spanish pretty fast, i can say my prayers, get to know people, introduce ourselves, bear my testimony, and share a message so far. I've learned probably 200 words + since I’ve been here. Well i guess my blessing was correct with the fact that Jeni will have more trials...... just remind her that she needs to keep her faith strong, and tell her i will be praying for her. I heard that US lost and i hope Paraguay can win. I do need some things that i don't have.. i need the yellow card that has my immunization stuff on it, my razor charger, a backpack, some postage stamps, and some more gym socks (we have gym 5 times a week, and i only have 3 pairs).