26 December, 2011

The miracle of the priesthood

Well this week went well. I really enjoyed being able to talk to you guys on the skype this time, it's a lot more personal. That was also really cool to be able to get to know Alan a tiny bit. He seems pretty cool. Jeni definitely is taller than she was when I left, I could tell wen she was standing up.
Well I hope your guys's Christmas went well, ours was good.

Well for some up dates, I am right now reading in the old Testament, about to finish, I'm in Jeramiah right now, so i'll be finishing it pretty soon. Although it is a little bit boring, I really have learned a lot from reading it. I am also in the BOM for the third time in the mission I believe, I'm in Mosiah.
I got a package from the Rassmusen family, that was really nice of them to send. they sent three ties and some cereal.
Also I got a notice of a package saying that I have one, I don't know if it was from you guys or not, but it weighs like 1 pound or so. I'll be getting that next week.

Well, I already told you some of the things that happened this week, but I will tell it in a little more detail now.
On Thursday, the 1 year old daughter of a member fell off the motorcycle onto the concrete. We didn't see it, but the hermano came over to us in a panic, and asked us to give his daughter a blessing. As he started going over to go into a room, she started throwing up a bunch, and then I realized how serious it was. My heart started beating pretty fast, and I started feeling nervous. The guy is having a lot of family problems, and so it would have been really bad if that had have caused more problems. My companion still doesn't know how to give a blessing in spanish, so I gave the blessing. As I started the blessing, I was pretty nervous, seeing as I had never really given an emergency blessing like that before. However, when I started the blessing, I felt the spirit really take over. The words started flowing out, and I blessed her that she would be healed. I felt a deep calm rush over me, adn flet through my hands that the little girl had stopped convulsing, and stopped crying, and had also stopped throwing up. As her sobs calmed, and I felt the peace, I knew then and there that she was going to be healedI really felt the strength of the Priesthood that God has trusted me with. That was one of those moments that I was very grateful to be worthy to give a blessing, and feel that power. We found out that she ended up being perfectly fine, she doesn't even have so much as a bump from the fall. She didn't have a fever, didn't throw up after or anything. It really was a miracle for me to see that.
We also had another cool experience this week. My companion was kind of talking a little bit about how we come into the mission with a lot of faith, and then wse don't see what we want of miracles, and so it crashes our faith. I told him, yeah, but we just have to increase our faith, that's what God is trying to teach us. He told me that he had a lot of faith coming into the mission. Then a story that Dad told me a little while ago came to mind. I told him about how when training elephants in the circus, that they tie it up with a strong cord, and the baby elephant tries time after time to escape. Then with failure after failure, it realizes that it won't escape. Later, they can tie up the full grown elephant with a weaker cord, because they won't even try to escape, due to their memory of the failure before. I told him that we come to the mission with the faith to break the cord, but we just don't have the spiritual maturity. Once most of us gain that maturity, our faith is broken, and we don't expect to see miracles any more. I told him we just have to increase our faith now to be like it was when we came to the mission, and we will then be able to acieve the miracles. Right when I finished saying that, we arrived to our appointment. We talked to a guy, who the missionaries had dropped due to his busy schedule with school. We got there right in time, seeing as he had just taken his last exam, and was now free to talk to us. We had a good lesson with him, and it was really a miracle that we saw from the hand of God. We are really excited for this week, and we are going to be really seeing more miracles this new year.
My companion is doing a lot better. He is walking at a normal pace now, teaching a ton more, speaking Spanish way better. I have really seen a lot of improvement there.

We did have a tough time on Christmas Eve, and Christmas day due to the parties and everything, nobody really wanted to talk to us. They celebrate Christmas more like we celebrate new years. They stay up till 12, then light a ton of fireworks, and then don't do anything on the day of Christmas..... It's kind of weird. On the night of Christmas Eve, I could hardly even sleep due to the blasting of music, and the fireworks that they light off constantly. I kind of dosed off a little, but then at 12 they woke me back up with louder fireworks. Then on Christmas day, we only had 25 out of 40 normal active members in church. Only one of the thee talks was about Christ, and only the very last song was a christmas song. They don't really have the whole Christmas spirit thing here. We did get lunch from a member on Sunday, which was pretty nice. It rained as well, which helped at first, but then it just got really humid and hot. Even though it was a tough day as far as the missionary work goes, I was good to feel like we did what we could on the day. We made a jello-cake, and made some whipped cream to put on top. It actually turned out pretty good.

Today we had a district activity, we were going to do cleaning a little bit of the chapel, but it ended up being locked, and so we couldn't get in. We ended up playing soccer for about an hour or so, until I kicked the ball to hard and broke it. It was fun though, because we have two latins in our district, so I could get some practice in. Other than that, I think I pretty much told you everything else that happened this week, so.... until next year.
I love and miss you guys a ton. I hope and pray that you are all well. Love ya!!!
Elder Ryan Griffin

19 December, 2011

Bible Bash no more

On Monday when P-day ended, we got a call telling us that we had to get to Asuncion the next morning so my companion could sign some documents.  Since we are the furthest out, we had to take a taxi at 11 to get to the bus station, then we left there at 12, after a 6 hour bus ride we got to the terminal in Asuncion, then we arrived at the office, had to wait there for a while until the office elders woke up.  Then we sat there until about 11, got back to the bus station, and got back to our area at 7 pm on Tuesday.  So after 12 hours of bus rides, more than 60 dollars in travel, and an entire day and night wasted, my companion successfully signed his papers.

On that Tuesday, we saw a kid running out of a house, and a man that came out shortly after chasing him.  The man chased him for about a block, then lost his balance, and belly flopped on the rock road. needless to say he was slightly red.  A girl that came out after him chased down the kid, and came back with him 1 minute later.  Not sure what happened there, but it was like watching America's funniest home videos all over again.

We found this man that was drinking, and he told us to sit down.  He bought us some soda, and turns out he is a swiss millionare that lives here, and speaks English as well.  He was super drunk, and super atheist, so the conversation didn't really go anywhere.

We found a family sitting outside on Thursday, and we went to teach them.  The wife hurried and got chairs, and so we thought they were really friendly.  Then she disappeared when we sat down, but came back in like 2 minutes, but this time with a Bible in her hands.  I know you wouldn't think that is something weird, but from my experience, when a Paraguayan brings a Bible to talk to us, it is only because they want to "Bible Bash."  Needless to say, I have had my
fair share of that to know it is ineffective, so I tried to push through the lesson.  She kept trying to stop us to argue, but I just kept going on.  We got to Joseph Smith, and well she still kept arguing, and so we told them we weren't there to argue, adn left. Earlier in my mission I would have just taken the challenge and proved her wrong with her own Bible, but I have realized the humble way to get out, is by just leaving the lesson when they want to argue.  The good thing was that I didn't feel the spirit leave the lesson, so at least we did what we should do.  My companion was disappointed though, and wanted to see me prover her wrong.  Oh well, he'll learn.

We were teaching someone this week who said he liked the Catholic church better because it doesn't require anything out of him..... well I guess I can understand that.  We explained to him that God requires sacrifice, and that Satan tries to give us the so called "easy way out."  The true church of God would have to require sacrifice.

We had a tough week this week.  Partly for losing a day going to Asuncion, but overall it was just a tough week.  I think I have been getting a little impatient with my companion, so I definitely need to work on some patience to make sure we work together better.

Yesterday we were sitting in church and nobody of our investigators had come.  (our sacrament is last)  I had been praying a lot in the morning for a miracle with our investigators coming to church, and so it was kind of frustrating.  Right before the sacrament meeting started, we had an investigator come in.  God really does work in mysterious ways, different than we can ever imagine.

Also on Sunday, we were teaching a lesson, and I told my companion to invite them to be baptized.  His response, "I've never invited anyone before."  Apparently he and his companion didn't invite very many people to be baptized.  Well needless to say, we practiced that this morning.

Well honestly I need a lot of miracles from the lord at this point. I've got challenges with the ward, the investigators, my companion, and my district.  I really need the help of the lord, and I am seeking it out daily.  There is no better time to come closer to the Lord than on the Christmas holiday.

Love you guys tons, and I look forward to talking to you on Saturday.

Elder Ryan Griffin

12 December, 2011

Turning around the lowest district

Hola Familia,

Well this week has been a good week out here in Hernandarias.  Here are some updates of some things that are different here.

1.  We have some parrots right outside the house of our neighbors that are constantly screaming.  Sometimes they sound like a couple of little girls screaming, and it kind of gets annoying.
2.  We don't have the purified water delivery here, so we have to put chlorine in our water to be able to drink it somewhat purified.  Can anyone say swimming pool?
3. We don't have an airconditioning that works, so we end up sleeping with just fans in the middle of the summer.
4. Summer has started up again, and is getting really hot.  I always know it is summer when I start sweating just sitting on the pot.....I'm not too fond of having to go to the bathroom anymore.

Well this week we got to go exploring a little bit.  We wanted to get to a part of an area that was on the opposite side of where we were one day.  There was no road through, so we took option B, going through the fence.  We ended up going through a forest like area for about 15 minutes, finally we got out of that, walked through some fields, about 4 barbed wire fences, and finally we got to a dirt path.  I've never been more glad to see a dirt path in my life.

Another day in the week we were in the same situation in another part of our area.  We decided again to do the same.  This time we passed a banana tree, that had a couple of ripe ones that we took off and ate. We then passed a couple of fences and fileds, and then finally got where we needed to go.

This week we tried using an anology in the teaching to help people understand.  To explain that we have to be clean in the celestial kingdom, we used the following example.  If you had an all white house, with white carpet, and everything, and I came over with muddy shoes, and face and hands and everything, would you let me in?  Well turns out the Paraguayans would.  3 out of 3 times, they answered, yeah why not.  Nothing better to completely ruin a good example than a
paraguayan. ;)

I went on divisions on Tuesday with my old companion, Elder King.  It was really weird having him be my ZL now, but it was really fun on divisions.  It was cool to see how much he has progressed.  It was fun being on divisions with him.  At night, we went to a dinner at a members house, and it just so happens that Elder Watson was there as well since they are in the same ward.  I got to catch up with him a bunch as well.  There were out of 4 people there, there was 3 of us that were out in Acahay.

We taught a drunk guy on lke Friday this week.  We sat down and said the prayer, he apparently didn't hear the amen, because he sat there for a good minute more before he opened his eyes and looked up.  Not sure if he was sleeping or what.  He then wanted to say his own prayer, and proceeded to pray to Mary.  He wanted us to repeat what he was saying, and we just told him we couldn't.  He then had some random sobbing spurts before we sayed a prayer and left.

We taught a guy that speaks only in Guarani.  He understands Spanish though, and since I can understand most of Guarani now, he speaks in Guarani, and I respond in Spanish.  Kind of a strange way to teach. He is the first person that I have ever given a Guarani BOM to. Finally getting a good use out of that.

On one of the days of the week it rained a lot, and we had to go out to a campo part of our area.  It was really muddy, and so my shoes got mud coming up to about the ankle area.  It got really heavy on the shoes, and was useless to try and rub off.  At least we know that the Paraguayans would invite us in their house anyway. (which they actually did)

We also had a lesson yesterday, where we passed by to teach a guy we found last week.  when we saw him, we saw he had a book in his hands and was reading it.  I told my companion, that would be awesome if that's the BOM.  Turns out it was.  He read 3 nephi 11 that we left him, and then read the introduction, the Joseph smith story, and until 1 nephi 3.  We set a baptismal date with him in one year.  In January.

We had a ton of people we had found that committed to go to church this week, so we were expecting a good turn out.  Well the Lord always has different ways then us, and well, nobody came of our investigators.

I found out on divisions with Elder King, that this district that I am in now, is one of two lowest baptizing districts in the mission.  Our area in Hernandarius 2, is one of the lowest in the mission.  It has had about 1 baptism every 8 months or so.  Well the good news is, I don't think that it can get any worse right.  President sent me a letter this week saying he knows I have the faith to be able to lift the area.  I am really going to have to keep working hard, and give it everything I have got.  I need to get more help from my comp as well, because he is kind of already trunky.  The Lord really enjoys putting me in tough situations, but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way.  I have come to realize I really have needed the trials and testing that I have had in my mission.  The Lord knows me too well, I think he knew that a lot of my weaknesses will only be purified with lots and lots of fire.

Well that's the gist of this week.  Lots of heat, and lots of walking.  We did find 17 new investigators again, and we had 22 baptismal invitations in the week.  I am working as hard as I can, but I think I need to work on being more effecient as  well.

I love you guys tons, and hope all is well back home.  The calls are coming up in a couple of weeks.  We are probably going to try and do it on the 24th around 6 (In Paraguay) Let me know when you guys can. Also, do you need the codes or do you already have them?

Lova ya,
Elder Griffin

05 December, 2011

Well this week we had changes. I got changed out of my area in las Residentas. I am now in a new area, in Cuidad del Este. The furthest east of Paraguay you can get. I am in an area called Hernandarias, I am in area 2. It is an area that is out in the boonies again, it is a lot more poor than in the my last area. My new companion is from Idaho, Mr. Papas (potatoes). No just kidding his name is Elder Stallings. He is a really big guy and he seems like a really good companion so far. We have been working really hard this week, and found a ton of new investigators in the week. He was trained by Elder Beckett (my MTC companion) and has the same time as my last companion (Elder Rodgers).

Our area here is really beautiful though. We have one of the biggest dams in our area. From what I hear it is the dam that produces the most electricity in the world. It is Called Itaipu. You can probably check it out on the internet. We also have a zoo, but it’s never open on Mondays, so I will probably never be able to see it…..

My new zone leaders are both younger than me. Elder Watson (old comp) was zone leader out here, but he dropped down to DL. Now it is two new ZL, Elder Clement, and my old companion Elder King. Elder King has 2 changes less than me, and Elder Clement has 4 less….. weird. A bunch of the elders in my group went down or just stayed the same. It will be cool doing divisions with my old companion though.

Well even though we are really close to the dam, we have had 3 days of power outage (ironic I know) I would think being so close to the energy, we wouldn’t have that problem, but apparently I was wrong. All the food we had bought and put in the fridge went bad, and turns out we can’t get it reimbursed….

I saw a family motorcycle this week. 6 people on one motorcycle….. and no it is not an extra large motorcycle. There were two kids on the front, and then the dad, and the mom on the back with two little kids on the lap (road trip anyone?) Well I guess you gotta do what you can to get from point A to point B, just try to limit the casualties….

We knocked one house with about 8 people outside. They all got up when we got to the gate, and all just went their separate ways into the house. Chinese Firedrill? Fortunately that wasn’t the story of the whole week, we actually found about 20 people, and found some really good investigators. My companion is a little newer, and so he couldn’t remember the area all that well, so I took advantage of all our walking around and talked to all the people sitting outside of their houses.

We talked to a man sitting in a chair outside his house that I asked how he knew the catholic church was true. His response: “Well because my preacher told me so.” Wow, that’s profound. Well for some reason most people really don’t understand the concept of maybe asking…. God? We have a lot of work to do out here to help people understand that you can ask God to know the truth. It’s really sad that most of them have grown up their whole lives just in confusion.
Our pension is a lot better than my last one (other than the electricity). The only problem, is that we don’t have any lunch appointments, besides on Saturday with one of the members. We have a country club thingy here that has a bunch of American products, like Hush puppies, Aeropostal, gap and stuff like that.

I am still District Leader out here, but I am finally not training, so that makes it a little easier. My companion however, wasn’t all that well trained, so he almost doesn’t even speak Spanish, so I am kind of still having to teach him everything, without being a trainer. My companion walks super slow….. I am used to walking really fast, because I’m not a person that likes to just waste time during the day, but my companion is kind of having a hard time, and is always wanting to walk slow to not “waste energy.” I have 8 people in my district still, and they all have a lot more time than my last district.
I am doing well, I’m excited to work in my new area. (and to buy souveneirs out here). I have some work to do with the companion, but as Paul McCartney said “All you need is love”.  I’ll be working hard out here, and I am praying that I can see some miracles in this area. 
Well, Love you guys tons, and I hope everything is going well with you. Talk to ya next week.
Elder Griffin

28 November, 2011

The monster returns

Well this has been an interesting Thanksgiving weekend for my companion and I. We were planning on buying a Chicken to be able to celebrate the holiday a little bit, and maybe do some mashed potatoes or something. On Wednesday, however, we ended up feeling a little sick after our lunch appointment. On Thursday, we both woke up with pretty bad stomach aches, and head pains. We both got hit with some kind of bug, and so the monster (the Diarriah) returned. We both had pretty bad diarriah and headaches and everything from Wednesday until Sunday. It just so happened that Thursday (Thanksgiving) was the day we felt the worst. We ended up having to change our dinner plans a tad bit, and ended up eating rice with some eggs...... not the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.

On Thursday while sitting there eating bland rice with eggs, I really started thinking about Thanksgiving. I realized that I was in another country, away from the family, and eating quite frankly the worst thanksgiving dinner I had eaten. Regardless of all of that, I realized that this thanksgiving I have more to be thankful for than any other thanksgiving I have passed. The holidays really aren't all about all the food, or about presents, or about the turkeys, the christmas trees, the ornaments and all that..... It's about really reflecting on our lives, and the life of Christ. My whole life, I have always been more focused on the food, the presents, and all that with the holidays, and I guess it really took me being in the most humble circumstances to really come to realize the blessings that I have in my life. It helped me really see just how blessed I really am to have the gospel in my life.
This week was a pretty tough one due to the sicknesses of my companion and I, and also the fact that it was one of the hottest weeks we've had in the year so far.   Tyler and Kiplin sent me a letter with a talk attached named "but if not." I realized that one of the problems I have had in my mission is the pure unconditional trust in the lord. With supposedly increasing my faith a little, and working harder, I thought I had faith that no matter what, we would see miracles. When that didn't happen, quite frankly it discouraged my faith, and shook my hope of seeing miracles. My problem I have had, is that I didn't have the unconditional trust. I told the Lord I would work as hard as I could, and trust that he would give us miracles. All along what I should have said, is that I would work as hard as I could, and trust that he would give us miracles, BUT IF NOT, then I will keep working as hard as I can, and trust in him. The mission really has helped me in so many ways to be able to really understand the faith and trust. Before the mission, I always viewed it as simply believing somehthing that you can't see. Little did I know that is just the "milk" of the doctrine. Faith and trust is really to just throw my own will out the window, and conform my wants, my wishes, and desires to be those of the Lord. The trials that I pass every hour, every day and week and month of the mission serves for my growth and understanding. I am so thankful for my trials. I know that without the trials I have had in my mission, I would not be who I am now. I also know the Lord still has so much more to teach me as a missionary, and I am excited to learn it all.
This week we didn't have any investigators come to church, we only had about 25 members there. We are starting to see a lot of potential baptisms that are coming from our work with the members now...... maybe we will start seeing the miracles now, but if not..... well you already know. We have been working really hard to gain the confidence of the members, due to the fact that there have been a long line of disobedient missionaries that have been here, and so we have been having to build everything up from zero.
We have changes this Wednesday, and I'm not sure if we will be changed or not, but I do have the surety that if I leave here, than I have at least done everything I can to leave this little branch of the world better off than when I found it. We have had a really hard time changing the traditions of the members here due to the past missionaries, and have even had some members that get offended by us. We are really making an effort to be 100 percent obedient, and we have gotten to a point now where they are starting to understand a little better.
Well that's about all that is new this week..... we are feeling better with the stomachs now, although they still aren't up to 100 percent yet. I love you guys, and hope all is well back home. Thank you all for everything and my prayers are always with you. Love ya all tons!!!!
Elder Ryan Griffin

21 November, 2011

Following the Spirit

Well this week has been a week of, well a week of work. Missionary work really is one of the most exhauting, but most rewarding. This week has been a mix between the two.

On Tuesday I did divisions with another companionship in the district, it went pretty well, there were some things they were struggling with, and so I talked to them about that, but the divisions were helpful I think. During the divisions my throat started hurting a little bit.

On Thursday, we had a zone conference with President Callan. It was a really good conference, like all, and I feel like I learned a lot from president about some more things we can try, to see more success in our area. On the same day, later in the day, we had a lesson with a woman named Lina, and her son-in-law. They are a pretty poor family, we have been teaching Lina for a couple of weeks now, and she has attended church once so far. They have a ton of chickens running all over, a couple of dogs, and even a pet monkey in a cage, that has temper tantrums sometimes. On Thursday, we went there to have a lesson with them, and I felt like we should teach lesson 1. She had been taught by other messionaries before, so I thought to myself that it wasn't necesary. Then I felt the impression to teach lesson 1 again, so I conceded, and we started up lesson 1. We got really deep into some of the doctrine, and it was really spiritual, we went over prophets, and it helped a lot for them to understand the importance of the true church, instead of just whatever church talks about God. With the life of Jesus, and the apostacy, I think it really hit their needs, and their doubts they were having. Then we got to the restauration. I said the first vision, and then after it took a while for something to come, so it was just silent for a moment. Then finally the words started coming out, and I bore my testimony and felt the spirit guiding it stronger than at any other time. The spirit just completely took over the lesson, and it really just hit home to their needs. Lina said she was feeling the spirit really strongly, and committed to read and pray that night. It was one of the most spiritually edifying lessons I have been a part of. It is amazing to me how beautifully the words and scriptures, and testimony go together when they are guided by the spirit. The spirit really is a perfect teacher, obviously that's why we have to teach by it. It also is really cool seeing how it hits right at their doubts and concerns as investigators when the spirit is the one teaching.
The next day we went back, and she had prayed and read, and knows that it is true. Unfortunately she couldn't attend church due to her daughter having a baby on Sunday.
On one of the days of the week I don't remember which, a man with a machete, and a plastic grocery bag came up to us. We got kind of nervous, seeing as he had a machete, and he told us that he had been working all day, and that the lady didn't pay him, and that he had nothing to eat. He seemed really sincere, and we felt bad for him (and he had a machete) and so we gave him a 10 mil guarani (2-3 dollars). He took it and we walked off..... close call.
We have been finishing the thank you letters to the members this week, we have already written them all, now we are just trying to get them in their houses without them noticing. A lot of them have thanked us for the letters. I think it is helping them have a better relationship with us, so if nothing else it makes them feel good about themselves. It makes us feel pretty good to be serving them as well.

On Saturday we did a service with Emmanuel, one of the members, we cemented in some rocks in front of his house for a walk-way. It didn't turn out all that well, but we aren't exactly experienced with rock laying, it's tricky stuff.

On Sunday, we had a stake conference with Elder Foster from the 70. President Callan, and the temple president were also their, and it was a pretty good conference, their weren't as many people their as we would have liked, but it wasn't too bad of a turn out. They talked a lot about the importance of families, and it was really spiritual. I feel like I learned a lot from it. There was a youth choir that sang in it, and it was pretty bad, and off tune, but other than that the conference was pretty good.

This week we started a "game" to help us do better with the contacts. We came up with certain ways of contacting related with a certain sport (for example: volleyball; first elder does the warm up of the contact(bump), the other one does the contact part(set), and then the first one bears their testimony(spike)). Every time right before we do the contact, we say a certain sport, and then follow the contact (yes, we are that bored). One of the days, I said volleyball, and started the contact, then my companion found out his information, and then I bore my testimony. At the end he gave us both little candies..... best contact ever! Believe it or not, it has actually helped us to have more variety in our contacts, and helps us follow the spirit more on them. We also play golf(if someone passes, without contacting them, on your side, you get a point) all day. We sometimes have to come up with things like that to help us focus more on doing it.
Also on Sunday, I lost my voice due to something in my throat. In the morning I couldn't say anything, and later in the day, I could say a little bit. My companion had to guide everything during the day, so that was pretty funny. It was actually awkward in some situations, because he would just sit their waiting, and since I could hardly say anything, I had to do the same..... lets just say we had a lot of awkward silences. It was fun sounding like a 14 year old boy again though with my voice.
Right now we are having a pretty big rain storm.... it's cooling things down a bit. The heat has started climbing up there this week though. It's nice when it rains, because it helps with that.

Changes are coming up this next Sunday, in about 10 days. There are a 18 more elders that go home.

Love you guys tons, and hope that everything is going well with you. Hope to hear from you next week......
Elder Griffin

13 November, 2011

Thank you members!

Well this week we had the baptism of Liz Paola Portillo. We had the baptismal service on Saturday, and it was incredibly spiritual. She bore her testimony after the baptism, and the spirit was really strong there. Then her uncle (who we reactivated about 2 months ago) got up and shared his testimony for the first time in 3 years. It was incredibly spiritual as well. Most of the people present in the service were teared up at least a little bit. Yesterday she was confirmed a member of the church, and is going strong now.

On Sunday it rained pretty much all the day. It's still raining as of right now as well. We didn't have any investigators in the meeting unfortunately due to the rain and some other problems we had during the week. This week we have been working a lot with the members. We are trying to build up their confidence in us, and get to know them a little better. We decided to write them some thank-you letters and hide them in their houses, to help them know we love them. We have done it with 5 of the families so far, and they all thanked us for the letters. We are hoping that will help to have better relashionships with them. We are working really hard to try and help them get excited to do the missionary work, and as of right now we aren't seeing any immediate results, but I know in the long-run it is going to help out a lot.
We also went looking for some of the less active members in our area this week..... that was fun. One of the ladies we found just started yelling at us right when we got to the door, and was yelling for probably 5 minutes straight about different stuff, we left empty handed their. Another one told us that they weren't part of this church anymore and asked us to take them off the list. Well needless to say, we didn't have the greatest reception as of yet, but we are going to keep looking and see what happens.

I did divisions with one of the companionships this week, and that was really good. It's kind of weird having to be the example for other missionaries, because then I'm always worried if I am doing everything right or not. It was a good teaching/learning experience though.

We were talking to Christian, the one I baptized when I got here to this area. He told us that he is planning on serving a mission when he turns 19. He also said that he is in 2nd nephi 15 in the Book of Mormon. He is progressing really well, and is a strong convert. 
Well other than that, we did a deep cleaning of the house this morning, and that's about the gist of this week. Oh, also we have a zone conference on Thursday, that should be really good.
Love you guys tons, and hope all is well.
Elder Ryan Griffin

06 November, 2011

Pushing past exhaustion

Hola querida familia,
Well this week has gone pretty well. On tuesday I did divisions with one of the companionships in the area. I went to Libertad with Elder Bowers, and Elder Rodgers stayed in our area with a brand new elder. I got to do the interviews with the Quiñones family. They are 4 in total, the parents, a daughter of 13, and a son of 8. The first interview was with the father, and was really spiritual. I felt the spirit so strongly the entire time, and so that was really cool. We had a really good conversation about some gospel themes, and then finished it up. Then I interviewed the son, and that was just a quick interview. Then the daughter was really nervous, but I just lightened up the situation, and then it was really spiritual as well. Then the mom was really nervous as well, but her interview turned out really well also. I love doing the interviews, because I feel so much love towards these people who I only talk to for like 30 minutes, and feel the spirit so strongly throughout.
Also in the interchanges, we went to the house of an evangelical guy that knows a bunch of stuff about the church, and basically just likes to argue. Elder Bowers told him that I had more time and experience, and that I could answer all of his questions. So then he started his attacks right off the bat. It basically turned into a bible bash, because that's what he wanted, and so I gave in. Every time I would prove him wrong on a point, he would just change subjects. Finally I just put away the Bible, and bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon. He then proceeded to throw out all this supposed "scientifical evidence" that the Book of Mormon was false. I simply told him, well quite honestly I couldn't care less if all the scientifical evidence in the world proves that the Book of Mormon is false, because I have an undeniable spiritual witness that it is true, and there is no way I could ever deny that. Well needless to say, he changes subjects again and started attacking the church.  I just told him that the contention is of the devil, and that we weren't there to argue. He kept on going, so I shook his hand, and we left him there yelling things at us.

On Thursday, we did divisions with the Zone Leaders to do our interview for Paola (14). I went with Elder Merrill in Kary Rory and my companion stayed here again. She passed the interview and was all good. Unfortunately nature was not on our side this week. The day before, she started having her.... feminine problems.... Well needless to say we had to postpone the baptism for this coming Saturday.

On Sunday we had 4 investigators in the meeting, which was really good. We also started picking up our lessons with members, and some of the other indicators. We have been working so hard for so many weeks now, and we are praying that it will be paying off now. We have people with bap. dates for the next three weeks, so if we keep it up, we can actually start baptizing every week. We are praying with everything that we can accomplish that. We are already about half way through this change, so in 3 weeks there's a good chance that we will have a change. I don't know if I will go or if my companion will go.
The elders that had the family that was baptized also got robbed on sunday night. They were walking along, and apparently some random guy just came up to them with a machete, and robbed them. They just threw the cell phone, and ran, so they didn't get hurt or anything..... but now they are phone-less.
We are really working with the members now to get them more excited for missionary work and get them more involved. We have a plan of 10 families who we are working with to get a reference every month from them. If we can do it well, we should start seeing a lot more success in our area. We are thinking of more and more things that we can do bettter so that we can see more and more success as missionaries. It sure doesn't come easily though.

After 8 full weeks of hard work, and mental exhaution, we are now finally seeing the fruits of our work starting to appear. I feel really good about our efforts with these weeks, I think I have suffered more frustration and exhaution in these 8 weeks than I thought I could possibly bear. It is amazing to see how well the Lord knows us personally and gives us such trials as to help us push ourselves to the very limit of our strength so that we can become that much stronger. Our personal progression is like a muscle, it needs that maximum resistence to be able to reach it's potential. If we don't reach that top resistance, than God knows we can never reach our true potential. I remember that when I started lifting a little in college with Michael, I was even more skinny and quite frankly weak. I would get to a point with the lifts (bench press or others) in which my body would tell me to stop. My natural response was always to try and put the weights back. Michael, knowing the need for more resistence to stimulate the growth, would always push it back, and tell me to do one more. I would do the one more, and at that point I was always passed my usual point of exhaustion. Then once again I would attempt to put the weights back, adn once again Michael would tell me to push out one more. at that point I would usually say, I can't do one more, I'm already passed the point of exhaustion. But he wouldn't let me put it back. Whenever I would go and do that very last one, even after the exhaustion, I could never get the weights all the way back up by myself, but he would let me sit there and struggle a little bit with it before reaching out and lifting the rest. I've come to realize how similar that experience is in the real life. I think god understands this need for stimulation of growth. He pushes us to that very last limit, and even lets us sit there and struggles sometimes to try and get it back up. He also always reaches out eventually to lift the rest. I now am understanding the great need for trials in our life. I have been praying a lot to my father in heaven that I can reach my true potencial as a missionary, and well I guess he knew the only way I could start getting there was a trial to the very limits of my strength.
I am so greatful for my father in heaven, and the great blessings and the great trials that he gives me. I know that he always knows what's best for me, and the best thing I can do is trust in him, and keep going.
Love you,
Elder Ryan Griffin

31 October, 2011

Well this week has been another tough one, but we have seen many blessings as well. I guess just about every week in the mission is tough, but I think a big part that wears on me a lot is training and being District Leader at the same time. We have one person that is going to be baptized this week, which is awesome! Her name is Paola, she is 14 years old, and is the grand-daughter of a member in the ward. She is progressing really well, and is reading and praying. She already has had her answer that it is the true church and everything. The baptism will be on Saturday.
I am really excited that we finally have a baptism, and I know we still need to keep up our efforts because we really want, and quite frankly need to be seeing more like one baptism a week, instead of 1 in a change or so. We are still thinking of more and more things that we can do better in our daily work so that we can see more success as a companionship. I feel like we are working really hard and doing everything we can, but there is still something lacking to really start seeing more miracles. Our problem right now is that the only one that attended church this week was Paola, so after her baptism, we are starting back at almost zero. We are just going to keep on putting forth the effort and working our hardest to see that success.
This week we were teaching a man, who is a little bit strange. I wanted to use an example for explaining the prophets, and the need for having one. I asked him, "so can you see God?" I was expecting an automatic no, but instead he replied yes. I asked him, "OK, well yeah we all talk with God through prayers, but I am talking about God himself, have you ever seen face to face?" Again he replied, yes. Then my companion started smiling and tried to do the nose itch to cover it up, which then caused me to smile. He asked us what we were laughing about, and so I told him, well we didn't expect you to tell us that you had seen God. He then told us that he really hadn't SEEN god, but that he always imagines him when he prays. ;)
Today we had a district activity, we played some basketball and soccer, which was really fun. We also bought some watermelons, and we cut the tops off, ate the fruit part, and then used them to carve some Paraguayan Pumpkins. It isn't quite as good as the good old fashioned American pumpkin, but it worked pretty well, and it was fun to kind of be able to do something for Halloween. It was really nice as well to be able to play a little bit of soccer since I haven't played for like 10 months now.

We also had the primary program this Sunday. The best part was that they told us that we have really good voices and asked us to sing with them to help them sing louder and all. So of course we did so, and it was really pretty funny, because we were just towering over all of them. Also right before the meeting started, they asked us to do a special number of singing. We had 5 minutes to hurry and practice singing "I love to see the Temple," and then we sang it at the end. It was pretty good.
Well other than that, we are at a point in our area, that everything could start going really well, and second now once God is ready we shoudl be seeing some pretty big miracles. I guess it's all literally in the hands of God now, all we can do is keep working and trying to do better every time. I definitely need to keep learning to pray with more faith, I think that will be something that will help.
Well, love you guys tons, and I hope you have a very happy Halloween. Until next week....
Elder Griffin

24 October, 2011

Tough week

Well sure enough, this was another tough week. I guess I have faced so much rejection and trials that we have just kind of lost our enthusiasm for the work. I have been thinking a lot of how one can maintain the enthusiasm during trials and hard times, because especially here where it is so hot, sometimes it is hard enough even to be outside, yet alone happy and enthusiastic. I feel like this week we worked as hard as we could physically, but mentally I have just been kind of distracted this week, and haven't really been as focused as I would like on the investigators and other people.

I guess I have really been being tried on my patience, in this last change and this last week. I expected that if we increased our faith, and worked even harder, that we would be able to see miracles. Honestly we stepped up the quality and quantity of our work, and yet I am having a harder time in the mission right now than I think I have had in any other area. I have been pretty impatient with the Lord.... and even kind of gotten to the point of frustration in this week. We have been finding and teaching great people, but something is always happening that causes us not to be able to keep teaching them. It has been really hard for me, because with the other stuff of being DL, and having a new companion that I have to train, I frankly feel alone a lot of the time. I feel like I am just out here having to do everything by myself, and I guess that right there has been the problem. I can't do it by myself. I think among all the other things that I am lacking right now, a big part would be more trust in God. I am in a situation that I can't handle with my own strength and efforts, and so I have to turn more to the Lord.

We do have one investigator that is progressing really well, and went to church for the second time this sunday, and is going to be baptized the 5th of November. I am so thankful that God has blessed us with at least one investigator that is progressing, but I can't help but feel we can be doing a lot better than that.

We also had changes this week, my companion and I both stayed. The other three companionships in the district all had changes. Now our district is really young. In Ettiene there are Elder Tilleman (2 changes) and Elder Grisham (3 changes), In Libertad 1.1 Elder Enriquez (1 change), and Elder Lamb (3 changes), in Libertad 1.2, Elder Bowers (5 changes), and Elder Coggins (0 changes/new), and then us in Las Residentas, Elder Rodgers (now 1 change), and I (now with 10 changes). Well basically all besides Elder Bowers, I have the same amount of changes as the rest of my district..... combined. I fell old in the mission now, even though I only have 1 year and 4 months now. It is crazy, because now the mission is really young, all the past 4 changes, there have been about half the mission changed out. Now I am in the older 1/4 of the mission.

Well that's about all for this week, Love you guys tons, and hope that all is well.

eLdEr GriFFin

17 October, 2011

Sunday is the best day

Hola familia, ¿Cómo están?

This week was really good.

On Tuesday, a sister that cooks for us, cooked us cow tongue (at my request) to try for lunch. Yes I can now say I have eaten the tongue of a cow..... It actually wasn't all that bad, it tasted like just about any other meat that comes from a cow, the only difference is that it is the tongue. I think it was weird eating it still just because of the thought that I was eating a tongue, and the texture was a bit weird, but overall, something I think I could handle eating more.

There is a crazy clown-looking man that is in our area. A couple weeks ago, he saw us and came up to us really excited to shake our hands, but he looks like something is off, and so we shook his hand and kept walking. This week we were walking in that area again, and we looked up and low and behold, the same guy was walking towards us. When he saw us, he just got a creepy smile on his face and stopped walking to wait for us to get to him. We changed our path and started walking to the right and barely avoided him, but I was slightly creeped out.

On Friday we tried another interesting part of the cow (also by my request). This time it was the stomach. They eat it here like a delicacy, and it is called "Mondongo." the lady gave us both a full plate of Mondongo stew, and well lets just say it wasn't as good as the tongue. It is a really weird texture and has the little hair like things on it (I forgot what they are called...) My companion couldn't eat it, so I told the hermana that he couldn't, so she ate his, but I was stuck with finishing my whole plate. Well, at least now I can say I have eaten the stomach, the tongue, and the foot of a cow.

One of the days we clapped a house, and an older American lady came out. We started talking to her, and turns out she is from Chicago, and is living in Paraguay (Why? I have no idea). Anyway, she is from a religion called Baha'i. It is quite different what they believe, something like that all religions are of God, but their religion is the newest religion that God has made.... Something like that. She was kind of like a hippie or something, I am not really quite sure.

This week we prepared to do a special musical number in the Sacrament Meeting (by our own choice[Never thought I would be doing that]). We prepared "Nearer my God to thee" with some changes, and some other stuff. On Sunday I gave a talk about missionary work, which was pretty good. Then a member (Roberto) who is leaving on his mission this week to Dominican Republic gave a talk as well. After that we went up and did the musical number. I started off the first two lines with a solo (with some changes in the notes), then my comp came in humming the harmony. The second verse, I sang the higher tenor part (Yeah, I didn't know I could do that either) for the first two lines, then hummed the harmony the second two lines. On the last verse we started out quiet both singing the normal part, then getting louder to the second line, then on the third line at top volume I switched to the harmony, and then we got quieter and finished off the song. Surprisingly I actually came up with most of that stuff, and turns out I don't sing as bad as I thought. Anyway, by the end of the song, we had basically the whole congregation crying..... that was a surprise. The branch president then got up to give his talk, and took a while to regain himself, and gave a fantastic talk. It was probably one of the most spiritual Sacrament meetings I have been in. It was really awesome to be an "instrument"(double meaning there) in the hands of God to bring the spirit so strongly into a meeting. On top of that, we had 4 investigators in the meeting, and they were able to feel the spirit like that. After the meeting, almost everyone came up and told us how great the song was, and how much they felt the spirit. They want us to prepare and do another song now. ;)

After the meeting, we went to the house of Roberto (the one who is leaving on the mission) and taught his girlfriend and sister (nonmembers) who were at the meeting. They said they felt the spirit really strong, and that they felt like it is true. We left them with Books of Mormon, and they live in another area, so we are going to have to pass the reference, but they are pretty much a sure baptism now. During the lesson they both were crying.

We then went to another investigator, that is the grand-daughter of a member, and she also attended the meeting. She also felt the spirit really strong, and committed to come to church again next week, and to be baptized the 5th of November. We had a really good lesson with her and the grandma, and her son.

We then were walking to go back home and study, when a woman called us over. Turns out the missionaries had taught her before, she had attended church before, but hasn't felt the need to be baptized yet. She accepted an invitation for us to come back again and teach her more.

Then walking back towards out house to study, we walked passed a family that was sitting outside their house. I was thinking we needed to go study, so I just said to myself that we didn't have time to stop and talk to them. Well, turns out the spirit thought differently. After passing them, I had an impression to stop and go back. I thought to myself, "well that will be awkward to go back, since they just saw us. We will just go back a different day." Well again the spirit gave me the impression that we needed to go back now, so I slowed down and came to a stop. My companion asked me what happened, and I told him "We need to go teach that family." We went back and talked to them in the gate, they accepted us in their house, and we taught them a great lesson. We taught just the mom and the dad, but they have 3 children (11,9, and 4 months).

Overall, we saw a lot of miracles (Especially on Sunday) in this week. It was really cool to finally see all of our work and trials paying off. I'm sure we will still have trials, and hardships, but at least it helped me realize that God is there, and knows our needs. "I feel my Saviors love, in all the world around me."

~Elder Griffin

10 October, 2011

Trial of faith comes before blessings

Well this week has been a tough one. I would be willing to say that it has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission. We were really excited and everything after the general conference and everything, and we had really made the decision that we are going to be baptizing every week now. We have increased our desire to do so, and decided we were going to go out and work as hard as possible to put our faith into accion and see the results.

Regarless of our efforts this week, everything went opposite of what we were expecting. All week long appointment after appointment just fell all day long. We had 3-4 plans every hour, and somehow we had days that we would go through every single one, and they would all fall through. Days where we taught only one lesson, and did probably 40-50 contacts. Even the contacting was harder than ever. We had more people just walk past us, and reject us this week than ever before. It was really as if some unseen force was at hand working against us in this week. We worked as hard as we possibly could, and honestly we have been exhausted most of the week. Some days it got to the point that we felt as if we would collapse when we got in the door. I feel like I worked harder this week than any other single week in my mission. Regardless of all our efforts, we had absolutely nothing to show for our work. It was really hard for me to understand why when we were so excited to work, and had the desire to baptize, why everything would go so bad like that.

Through meditating and studying, I came to realize something very important out of this whole week. The Lord cannot give us true miracles, until AFTER the trial of our faith. If we really want to see miracles as great as we find in the scriptures, we have to be tried, as were the prophets and missionaries of the scriptures. I really feel like God tried me in every aspect of the word this week. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and any other way that is possible, we have just been exhausted in all of the above this week. I really realize now that we should consider ourselves blessed to recieve such great trials as these, that God sees us fit to be tried and tested, and become a better person. I really like a scripture in the Book of Mormon, I think it's in Helaman. It is talking about nephi after he had been preaching, and got rejected. It says something like "Blessed art thou Nephi, becuase thou hast preahed the gospel unwearingly to this people." I hope that God could say the same thing to us this week of our work.

We also had interviews this week. Since I am district leader, I had to go last in the whole district, and it was a pretty good interview. We talked about my companion, and the District, and then he talked about how I am feeling and the conference as well. He told me to really focus on helping my district get a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

My district the past couple weeks has been having a lot of trouble as far as success goes, and this last Tuesday we had a really good District Meeting. The results were miraculous honestly. Although I didn't see the fruits of my labors in my own area, I am really glad to see that the district is doing a lot better. There was a huge increase in most of the key indicators in the week, and all the companionships (besides us) did a lot better this week.

This week, I don't know if we will keep having to be tested, but regarless of what happens, and how everything goes, we will just keep working our hardest until we see the results that we need in our work. I know that the Lord will bless us sooner or later if we keep being diligent, and keep asking in faith.

Elder Griffin

04 October, 2011

The best week so far!

Well, honestly I would have to say this has been one of the best weeks of my mission. I have seen a lot of changes and help that the Lord has been making in me. Since I decided I was going to increase my faith, the Lord obviously was trying that faith last week. This week we saw the blessings start to flow a little more. This week I have really just seen a huge difference in my enthusiasm for the work. I feel a lot different about what I am doing, and really just feel a lot better.

We had a leadership meeting on Wednesday this week that really reinforced what I was thinking and the revelation I was recieving for myself and my district. The president talked a lot about the importance of increasing our faith to be able to baptize every week. One of the problems we have here, is that people justify just having one baptism a month or so, because the rest of the mission is doing the same. The biggest thing we have to do as a mission is change that vision, and Expect miracles, not just Believe that they can happen. It was a fantastic meeting overall, and I left edified, and energized for the work. The biggest difference I have seen in the week, is that we have taken the decision to baptize every week, and so now we are doing everything possible to make that happen. With our vision lifted like that, it has made a big difference in my faith, in my enthusiasm, and in every aspect of the work. I have really been with a whole new look on the mission this week, and I have really come to realzie the great importance of our message to the world, that of the Restoration of all the truth. It has made it so our lessons are more powerful, and our contacts are more personal. We are finding a lot more prepared people, and it has been going really good. That's not to say we're not having bad days still, but the difference is our attitude. When I am happy and excited for the work, it helps my companion a lot as well to feel more push to speak more and push himself. We have seen that even in the hard times of the mission, we can still maintain a good attitude, and that changes everything.

On Saturday morning there was a pretty big rain storm here. We went with Christian (recent convert) to the conference walking there. My umbrella broke with the strength of the wind, and so it didn't really serve very well as protection after that. As we got closer to the chapel, there was a street we had to cross that was practically a river at that point. We had to cross it, and another, and by the time we got there we were what you can call soaked to the bone. For the first session we sat there soaked and all, but it was still a great session. I loved the conference. We were able to attend the 5 sessions, and I had a spiritual feast to finish off the week. I had written down some personal questions that I wanted to learn from conference, and I was amazed to see that every single one of them was answered in the exact way that I was looking for. I knew right as the speaker said the answer that it was what I was looking for. It really helped strengthen my testimony more that we have prophets and apostles that are living. I know there is no way they could have answered the questions I had, unless they were inspired of God.

This week we faced a lot of opposition of Satan as well. There is a member we have been working with, named Emmanuel. He is a recent convert, and his wife is a member as well, Evelyn. Emmanuel this week decided to look at some anti-mormon things on the internet, and it really shook his testimony of the church. They have been preparing to enter into the temple, and he has been what is standing in the way so far. Anyway, one of the days this week we passed by and he had us sit down, and said he had a lot of questions. As he was asking the questions, I just kept referring him back to the Book of Mormon, and telling him that it is the key to know about these doubts. We talked to his wife the next day in conference, and apparently he said we didn't know anything, and that he wasn't going to go to church anymore. In the 2 hour break in between, we went to his house, and I told him, alright, we are going to answer your questions now. He asked us a bunch of different things that he found on the internet, and I just calmly answered his doubts with the Bible (turns out the Bible study does come in handy). When he started realizing that all of the things against the church he had found could be answered simply using the Bible, he finally gave up his attack. He ended up watching the rest of the conference sessions, and now he is doing a lot better, but we still are going to focus on his testimony of the BOM. His wife was very grateful to us for helping out with the situation, so it was cool to be able to see our labors blessing the lives of someone.

Overall it has been a fantastic week, we still have a lot of things we need to do better, we have a lot more work to do, and things we are focusing on to be more productive, and not just occupied (that was in one of the talks).

I love you guys, and thank you for everything.

~Elder Griffin

27 September, 2011

Members need to help the work

Well This week has been difficult, but good. On Tuesday, I gave the district meeting about the faith, and increasing our faith to be able to see the miracles that we all want in our missions. The meeting was one of the most spiritual that I have been in, and I felt like I was inspired a lot during the meeting. Most of the time I feel like I am the one learning instead of the one teaching. At the end of the meeting we each made a list in companionships of what we are going to do/change to be able to baptize every week in October. I felt the spirit so strongly throughout it all, and left the meeting with a renewed excitement for the work.

Unfortunately, as we all know, our faith can't truly grow without trials of our faith. Well I really feel like this whole week after our determined descision to baptize every week, the Lord really tried our faith. We spent most of the week knocking doors, and getting rejected in most of them. It was really hard to keep up that determination and excitement with getting rejected time after time. On Wednesday we had the same thing happen, we taught a couple of lessons, but most of them were just standing in the doorway and teaching them. On Thursday, we found one new investigator, that only had 5 minutes to share. The rest of the day.... walking. On Friday, we ended up teaching a really good lesson with an investigator to start the day off. We set a baptismal date, and had a spiritual lesson. After that however, we ended up clapping houses almost the whole rest of the day. We walked all over the place, knocking doors, talking to people.... doing everything we could to teach people. Despite our efforts the whole day was just rejection after rejection.

At night, we were heading back towards the house. We were tired, rejected, discouraged.... ready to just sleep the day off. We arrived about ten minutes before 9. We decided despite our exhaution to knock a couple more doors until 9:00. We knocked a couple more, and nobody answered. Then I asked my companion: Do you want to try this house, or that house? pointing to two different houses. He picked the one on the right. It was the last attempt before we were going to go to the house. We clapped the house, and a man came out. We presented ourselves, and to my amazement, he let us come in. We sat down with him and his wife, and asked them to turn off the TV, and invite the other family members in. They only had a daughter that was also there, and she came to listen as well. We taught them a short lesson, but the spirit was really strong the whole time. Anyway the whole experience really fortified my testimony of the way that God tests our faith and our patience.

On Saturday, we also had a hard time getting in to houses. On Sunday, all the people we had commited to come to church, didn't show up, meaning almost all of their bap. dates fell. After church and studies, we went out to work. We went to a couple of appointments that all fell through. Our back up plan was to go to the other side of our area, and I didn't really feel like walking over there, so I asked my companion if he wanted to go over there or not. He decided that yes, so we went over that way. While we were walking we found 2 people sitting outside, and we were able to teach them a good lesson about prophets, and committed them to come to the conference this weekend. We also found another investigator while over in those parts of the area. Another thing that helped me learn, is the importance of including my companion in our decisions, even though he is new.

Well with a lot of introspection and meditation, I realized the biggest problem we are having, is the lack of help from the members. The percentage of baptism of people we find is 1/2000, whereas teaching a members reference in their house is 1320/2000, that's a big difference. We are putting together a plan with the ward mission leader and branch president to be able to recieve 1 reference from every household of members per month. If we can fulfil the plans, we should be getting more like 6-7 baptisms every month. We are going to be working hard this week to be able to encourage, and motivate the members to share the gospel with their friends and family. All in all, I know the Lord is teaching me lots of lessons every day in the missionary work. He gives me the revelation I need little by little, and I guess that's the only way that i actually pay attention to it. I know that every day of my mission I am learning and growing so much. I love being a missionary. There is no greater calling than that of sharing the gospel. I would like to invite you guys to talk with the missionaries and invite one of our neighbors or someone over to listen to them. Love you guys tons.


~Elder Ryan Griffin

20 September, 2011

Faith, the first priniciple of the Gospel

Well this week has been a big learning week for me and my companion. We are working really hard, and puting forth our effort to have success.
In the week I got a little bit sick with some congestion, but nothing that was too bad. More than anything most of our potential baptisms have been falling, and we have been walking around a lot looking for more investigators to no avail. Fortunately, as you already know, the Lord always puts through trials to help us learn something and grow spiritually.

I feel like I really found my answers in the scriptures in this week. It's amazing how the Lord guides us so much in our lives to help us become better people. I had been praying a lot that the Lord could help me become stonger, and more firm in my faith, and I am certain that the events of this week have been a clear answer to my prayers. As I was studying the scriptures this week there were a bunch of things that really stuck out to me, and made me ponder. As we were having a hard time in the week I was really thinking about what it was that I needed to do better, and the things that I could change. I was reading in the end of Alma, about the Sons of Helaman. It really stuck out to me the great faith that they had. It is a huge miracle, that in such wars that they were in, that not one of them died. Such a miracle, that it would be impossible to think that something like that could happen. I came to the conclusion that it was due to their firm faith in Christ, and thus they received the miracles. Later on most of the armies with them were destroyed, and they had very little support. The Lamanites had a great army in a very fortified city. Although they were worried the Lamanites would be able to take them over, due to their significantly greater number of people, Helaman and his army put their trust in god, and were not only able to withstand the Lamanites, but actually cast them out of the city in the which they occupied. For me that would take miraculous powers to be able to accomplish a feat such as that. Later on in Helaman 3, there is a story of the conversion of thousands of people, then in 5, again another group of thousands that were baptized. There are many other similar stories that came to my mind from the Bible and the BOM, and it really made me stop and think.

I realized that early in the Restoration of the Church, it was also miraculous numbers of people being baptized. It really made me start to wonder: Why don't we see miraculous numbers of people being baptized in our companionship/District/mission? I then found a scripture in Ether 12:12, that really answered the question for me personally. It says that the Lord can do no miracles when the we don't have faith. I came to realize that there is absolutely no reason that we shouldn't see miraculous numbers of baptisms in our day and age. God is the same god of miracles yesterday today and forever, so wouldn't it make sense that he would be able to do those kind of miracles in our companionship?

I have spent most of the week meditating in this thought, and came to the conclusion, that for one to see those miracles, they would have to have such great a faith, as to bring to pass those miracles. I realized that the big factor that I have been missing most of my mission has really been the faith. I really feel like we can be baptizing every week, and we are now setting goals to really bring to pass these miracles, by first increasing our faith. I feel very blessed by the Lord in this week for all that he has tought me in my personal revelation in studying. I know that this is the true church, and I know that God can and WILL do miracles for all of us in our lives, if we exercise just a little bit of faith. I really know that God is preparing people to be baptized in our areas, and now it is our responsability to find them and baptize them weekly.

~Elder Ryan Griffin

13 September, 2011

New comp

Well on Monday, after writing to you guys I found out that we were going to have a change in our companionship. Elder Graham left to another area, and I got put as a trainer again. There were 15 new Elders that came this change. Most of them arrived good on Tuesday morning, a group of 4 arrived late at 1 in the morning of Wednesday, and another 2 arrived at about 2 in the afternoon on Wednesday. We went to the office, and all the trainers had a meeting together with President Callan and Sister Callan. Elder King was there, and is now training and District Leader, also both my MTC companions, Elder Beckett and Elder Nelson. Also Elder Davis who came with me, and is now in my district, and another Elder that came in my group. Then the new Elders came in, and we got paired up with our companions. My new companion, fresh off the plane, is Elder Rodgers. He is from Bountiful, Utah.

I also saw and talked a little bit to Elder Hugie. His trainer is going to be Elder Nelson (One of my MTC companions). Due to the travel problems, the new elders had to do an orientation, and everything, so a couple of us had to wait. Finally after that and signing and everything, we finally got back to our area at about 5, and got to start working at about 6 or so. I am still the District Leader as well, but in my district, one of the areas split into two areas, so now we have 4 companionships in total in our district. Elder Davis (Texas, same time as me) and Elder Henriquez (Mexico, new elder) are in Libertad 1.1, Elder Sevy (Idaho, 2 changes) and Elder Bowers (Wyoming, 5 changes) are in Libertad 1.2, and Elder Pastul (El Salvador, 5 changes) and Elder Tilleman (Arizona,1 change) are in Ettiene. Overall we have a pretty young district. The work has been picking up a lot more in this week, we now are actually having more success.

It's kind of dificult, because my companion almost doesn't speak anything of Spanish, but he is learning. It is really cool being able to see the progress and be able to have studies that help him become a better missionary. We are really working on the Language so that he can start teaching more. My throat starts hurting when I have to teach almost the whole lesson, and do everything, but it is helping me learn a lot. Now in the whole world they are doing the 2 change (12 weeks) training program, and it's more than likely I will be with Elder Rodgers for at least the two changes.

This week we taught a Baptist pastor that lives in our area. I tried really hard to not let in go into a Bible Bash, because I know no matter how fun it might be, it really just isn't effective. We taught him all of lesson one, and he was very sceptical. At the end of the lesson, I asked him if God told him it was the truth, would he listen. He responed "nope." And started coming up with excuses. I was surprised by his response, and so I said, "I don't think you understood my question very well, I asked, if God tells you this is the true church, and that you should get baptized in it, then would you listen." He still said that he wouldn't listen even if God told him to. Sometimes I wonder how people can say they believe in god, and want to follow him, but yet when it comes down to it, they really don't have that desire at all. It really just makes me sad to see the lack of faith and understanding that a lot of these people have.

We have a family in our ward, Evelyn, and Emanuel. They are both fantastic, but have been having some marriage problems lately. Evelyn is very strong in the church and is working towards a temple marriage with Emmanuel. Unfortunatley Emanuel is a little more rebelious, and so we are working a lot with them to try and help them be able to work towards a temple marriage. That's about all that's new in this week. Love you guys tons, and I hope you are all well.

Les Quiero Mucho

~Elder Ryan Griffin

06 September, 2011

Working hard

Hola querida familia,
Well this has been a pretty tough week, but we worked a lot harder and put forth a lot more of our efforts in the week. We have been having a hard time with investigators that are progressing, and everything, but we've been finding a lot of new people that we are contacting. I feel like I have a lot of burden right now with the assignations and that sometimes my companion doesn't help me all that much, but I feel like he is at least improving. Honestly it is really hard to keep being completely obedient and focused sometimes, because I sometimes get frustrated. Regardless of it all, I know that the Lord has put me with my companion for a reason, and that I have to help him so that he can become converted in his mission. I really feel like that Lord has put a lot of trust in me, and knowing that I can help another missionary become better.

Sometimes I feel like I am too weak to do all that the Lord requires of me, but through faith and prayer, I am always able to come through. This week I had an interview with one of the investigators from Ettiene (a companionship in my district). We did divisions, and I did the interview. During the interview, there were a couple of things that made me feel like he wasn't quite ready for baptism. I felt really strongly that I needed to postpone the baptism, because he wasn't ready yet. Although I personally didn't want to have to postpone the baptism, I followed the spirit, and told him we would have to postpone it for now. I don't think that one of the Elders was very happy about that, but I feel like people have to be prepared for baptism, and be willing to keep the commandments afterwards. I guess the most important is to always follow the spirit, because honestly I wouldn't know what to do in some of the situations I have been in without it.

The changes are this Wednesday, and I'm guessing we are both going to be staying. The only thing that will change, is that I won't have to study so much time this next change. I have really been learning a lot in this change. I guess they say we learn the most in our trials. Honestly I consider it a blessing to be able to have trials. I am lucky that God considered me ready to progress more in the gospel. Sometimes it is hard to not be having so much success, and I feel frustrated that I am not being blessed when I am doing everything that I can, but I know that God has his purposes, and they are not the same as mine. Sometimes I just have to be patient and learn what it is that God wants me to learn.

Yesterday we had a lesson with a young man in our ward. Somehow the topic ended up going to a mission. He is 22, and we ended up testifying of the importance of going on a mission. He asked us why we came on a mission, and if it really is that important. It really helped me express to him the way that I feel about my mission. Honestly it has been the best decision I have made in my life. I wouldn't trade the year and couple of months that I have had on the mission for anything. All that I have learned and progressed in my mission is worth more than any amount of money, or fame that anyone can ask for. I am so grateful for the infinite wisdom of the lord for calling me on a mission, and helping me come to convert myself. I love you guys tons, and hope everything is going well with you.

You are always in my prayers. Love ya tons,

~Elder Ryan Griffin

30 August, 2011

Learning responsibilities

Well this week we had to conference with President Arnold. ON Wednesday we had the conference, and in the morning I went to the leadership meeting with him. It was really good, and helped me realize better what my responsibilities are in my position. I really realized the importance of every position that God puts us in, and fulfilling with those duties.

As a district leader now, I am responsible for helping the president in my part of the mission, that I can do all I can to take the stress off of his shoulders. In the actual conference I learned a lot. We learned a lot about the planning, the way we teach investigators, and tons of things that have been helping us in this week. One of the things that really stuck out to me was at the end when he bore his testimony. He happened to look right at me while he was bearing his testimony, and I could just feel the truth of what he was saying. It was awesome to be able to see in his eyes, that he really KNOWS that it is the truth. It made me contemplate if people can see in my eyes the same thing when I bear my testimony.

This week has been a little tough overall. My companion has been having a tough time getting up on time. I have been trying to help him, but his first companion just got him into that habit, and now it is like trying to wake a bear up in the morning. I really have learned a lot about my companion in this week however. He grew up in a family that was baptized into the gospel when he was 12 years old. As time went on, all of his family besides his sister fell away from the church. His family had a lot of problems with drinking and other things, and Elder Graham had a lot of hard times because of it. When he was 18 he moved out of the house to go to college in Pennsylvania, and played on the basketball team. He then had an impression that he should move to Utah when he turned 19, and went out there to UVU. While there, friends and family helped him come back to the church. Nearly a year later, he had the feeling that he needed to put in his papers and go on the mission. He did it, and with his mother worked towards going to the temple. He helped re-activate his mother, and with his family still in problems, left for the mission. It really has made me have a lot more respect for him, and a desire to help him serve a faithful mission.

We have a lot of really spiritual discussions about things, and he is progressing a lot. He still has a problem with getting up on time, but we are working on that right now. I am trying really hard to be patient and understand him, and honestly even though at times I get frustrated, the Lord has helped me be a lot more patient. A lot of our investigators have been falling, and we have had a tough time finding new investigators, but I know all that I can do is rely on the Lord, and keep working as hard as I can to move the work along in this area. There are still a lot of things that I am trying to improve in myself, and become a better missionary. I feel like I have become a very different person in my mission already, but the last ten months I have to Endure until the end. I have to serve the Lord until the last moment, and keep going. I love you guys tons, and hope you all have a great week.

~Elder Ryan Griffin

23 August, 2011

ups and downs

Well this week definitely had ups and downs. We had the baptism of Christhian. His mother isn't a member yet, and his dad doesn't live with them. He is 15 years old, and is a great young man. He told us he wanted to be baptized, and he has a lot of support from the young men en the branch, so we decided we would baptize him and keep working with his mother. He was baptized on Saturday by a the young mens president, Emmanuel. The baptism was really good, we had 4 investigators that came to it. I felt the spirit strongly when he bore his testimony after his baptism. I felt so much joy to see a son of God be able to enter into his church. It really is one of the greatest joys that one can feel, to see another one of God's children enter into a covenant with Him. Christhian has been asking us a lot about a mission, and other things of the church. He has a great desire to know more, and do the will of the Lord. I know he will be a great blessing to this ward, and we are going to keep teaching him and helping him to progress with the help of the branch. His mother is catholic, and needs a little more work, but we are going to keep working with her. She was at the baptism, and we could tell that she felt the spirit. She gave the last prayer, and it was really good. He also has a cousin that isn't a member that lives with them, we are going to be working with her as well to see what happens. He was confirmed a member of the church on Sunday, and he is really excited to keep learning. As far as the other investigators go, we have been struggling a lot. A lot of the people that we have been teaching just haven't been progressing very well. A big problem we are having as a companionship, is that my companion is having a really hard time waking up in the mornings. He usually sleeps until 11 or so, and so I just have to do all 3 hours personal study. I just feel like I am getting impatient with it all, and it is making it hard to be effective in our daily work. I am trying everything I can to help him, but he has got to find the will power to do it himself. It's been a week that I feel like I have come a lot closer to the Savior. I have felt really stressed out with everything with my companion and all, and then having more responsabilities as the District Leader, and as his trainer, I feel like I've been getting a little frustrated. It made me really start having more sincere prayers in this week, and pleading with the Lord to help me fulfil what it is he wants me to do in my mission. I really feel like I haven't accomplished what I would like to have accomplished up until now in my mission. Through study and prayer, I have been finding my own answers to the problems, and have really stregthened my testimony in this week. I know that no matter how hard the mission is that I just have to keep pushing through, and giving the Lord all that I have. That is all that he asks of me. This week we have a new slate, and we are going to have the conference with President Arnold on Wednesday. I have to go to a leadership meeting for an hour before the conference, but I know it will be a great learning experience. I am excited to learn from a general authority of God what it is that I can be doing better as a missionary. I know that the Spirit will help me to know what it is that I need to learn. I always feel like I learn so much from the zone conferences, and that I come away a better missionary. I love you guys a ton, and am always thankful for your support and love. Hope you have a great week. My prayers are always with you. Love ya, Elder Ryan Griffin

16 August, 2011

The importance of the Book of Mormon in the gospel

Hola Familia, This has been a challenging week with everything. I have had some pretty bad stomach problems and diarriah for most of the week. Starting last Monday I started having stomach pains, and I had to start eating a bland diet. After a couple of days it still wasn’t getting any better, and so finally I had to call President Callan and ask him what to do. On Saturday I finally went to the pharmacy and bought some pills to help out the problem that I was having. I started taking them, and now I feel a lot better, but it made for a long week with stomach pains the majority of it. On Tuesday in the district meeting, we talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon. It talks about Christ, it supports the Bible, it’s the keystone to our testimony and our doctrine, and it responds to questions of the Alma that people have. It actually helped me preparing and teaching about it to realize that I really do need to put more importance on it. We did some practices of using the Book of Mormon to testify of Jesus Christ. After the meeting (still with stomach pains) I did divisions with one of the companionships, and went to their area in Libertad. The first guy we taught was an agnostic (believes in God, but not in Christ) and he was talking about Hitler and a bunch of other weird things. I finally got on topic, and asked him about the Book of Mormon, and he said he had read it all the way through. I talked to him about it, and it just so happened, that I used our practice in the District meeting, and used the Book of Mormon to testify of Jesus Christ. He has been being taught by the missionaries for like 12 years, and they have a hard time getting him to do compromises. I testified to him of the book of Mormon, and used a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, that no bad man could write a book such as this, and no good man would do it, unless it were true. After that he got quite and listened better. I shared with him my experiences of how I know that the church is true, and he said he had prayed three times with missionaries and didn’t receive a response. I asked him if I could invite him to do something, and he said yes. I invited him to read the Book of Mormon every day, and pray every day if it is true, and promised him if he did it he would receive a response before finishing the book. He accepted the invitation, and said he wants to try it out. After the lesson, the elder (in his 2nd change) was really surprised. Even though he didn’t really understand what we were saying, he saw that the guy just completely changed and listened. It was a really spiritual experience. Honestly, I didn’t know what was coming out at times; it was just what the spirit directed. It was really awesome to see that when the spirit directs a lesson, that it changes the people. At the end of divisions I did the evaluation, and went back to my area on Wednesday. The rest of the week was a challenge for me, because with my stomach, I wanted to just stay inside and sleep, but regardless, I kept going out and working. On Thursday, I got even worse, with headache, body ache, and the stomach ache. I barely made it through the day, but then the next day I felt a little bit better. In church we had 4 investigators again. One of them was Christian (15), who is going to be baptized this week. We already went over the interview questions with him, and he is really excited to be baptized. His mom and sister aren’t quite ready to, but we are going to keep working with them. For now, Christian has the support of the other young men, and the young men president in the branch. We set goals as a district to increase our new investigators, and the invitations to be baptized, and in the week we increased them both as a district by 12. Overall it has been a good week, I’m glad to be back to good health again, and now I can get back to working normal. I love you guys tons, and hope everything is going well. Talk to you next week. Elder Griffin

09 August, 2011

Leading the District

Hola Familia, This week has been pretty good, but at the same time difficult. My companion, Elder Graham, has a hard time getting up in the mornings. We haven't been doing companionship study very much in this week, because he usually wakes up too late to do it. It is kind of frustrating, because his first companion was really lazy, and didn't do what he was supposed as the first part of training. I am just trying to be patient with him, because I pretty much have had to teach him everything over. I am trying to help him wake up, study, and plan better, but it's kind of like teaching an old dog new tricks. I talk to him pretty much just in Spanish now, so his Spanish is getting a lot better in these two weeks. I just have to keep help him become obedient so that we can have the spirit with us. This week I taught the district meeting for the first time, and it went pretty well. I always think I learn things a lot better by teaching them, so if nothing else, it's helping me learn the doctrine, and the principles in Preach My Gospel better. I also did an interview for the first time, it was a 9 year old girl, who's mom was a less active, and they re-activated her. I also have had to take numbers, and do divisions already, so it's a lot of work, but I am learning a lot by doing it. In the district, we have on companionship: Elder Davis, and Elder Sevy. Elder Davis has the same time as I do, and Elder Sevy is in his second change. Also Edler Pastul and Elder Tilleman. Elder Tilleman has 2 weeks, and elder Pastul 6 months. Over all, it is probably the youngest district that I have seen. Elder Pastul and Tilleman had the baptism this week. We had a tough week in all, as far as lessons go. We ended up walking around a lot, but we were doing all we could to find and talk to people. We had to lessons that ended up in an argument. There was one guy that was telling us that our church is stuck back in time 2000 years ago. I asked him if his church (catholic) had a prophet, and he said no. I then told him that the only way to know god's will in our day, is through a prophet, meaning that if the church doesn't have a prophet, and only uses the Bible, then it is living 2000 years ago..... well lets just say he didn't like that comeback, but he was an investigator that wasn't progressing anyway, so we dropped him. We had another one with the 30 year old son of a member. He is in some evangelical church, and we started teaching him on Friday. Immediately, he started attacking the doctrine, saying that we are only saved by grace and faith, and that we can't be saved by our works. I told him in James it teaches us that faith without works is dead, meaning that to recieve grace, we have to have works to show our faith. He then went to a scripture in Mathew 11, changing the subject by saying that john was the last prohpet. I then showed him in Acts 20, that there was a prophet after Christ, named Agabus. Anyway, I tried to explain to him that the only way to know the truth is through the Book of Mormon, but he didn't want to accept that, and tried to keep arguing. We had 4 people that went to church on Sunday. Antonio, Cristian, Zuni, and Cindi. We had a good week overall, we just had to walk a lot most of the days. We have the baptismal date for Antonio this week, but he has a problem with smoking. He has stopped for now, but we have to make sure he has stopped so that we can baptize him. Zuni Cristian, and cindi are all for the 20th of this month. We are excited to keep working, and find more people in this week. I love you guys tons, and will talk to you again next week. Love ya, Elder Ryan Griffin