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