25 January, 2011

A new apartment but with no kitchen

Well this week has been..... interesting. Like I told you last week, we had to go and look for a house on our P-day this week. Two elders from the office cme to look with us (because they have a different p-day). My companion went with the elder that had the car, and I went with the other on foot. We walked around for 4 hours looking for a house..... and only looked at houses that we had already seen, that don't have a kitchen or anything. After 4 hours they finally let us go, and then we had to go get our hair cut, buy food, and do a couple other things, and then we had to go out to proselyte again. Anyway, we had a whole 30 minutes to actually rest in the day, and so I pretty much went 13 solid days without rest. To make things even better, the financiero (accountant?) called us on Thursday to tell us they are going to move us into one of the houses that doesn't have a kitchen, but that they are going to put a sink in. They told us they were going to come by at 1 on Friday, so we packed up all our stuff, and were waiting at 1 on Friday to move. We waited until about 2 and called him, to have him tell us, "oh sorry, I forgot to tell you guys that we're going to move you on Saturday..... finally on Saturday we moved into our new house, which has no kitchen, just a sink. It is just one big room, and a bathroom. It has a fan, but no airconditioning, the window has a broken lock, so you can open it from outside, and best of all, we live next to a drunk guy. The first night sleeping there, they were blasting music until about 12 at midnight, to say the least, I hardly got any sleep, and with the fact that it is burning hot here without airconditioning. Anyway I am annoyed with the whole thing because we recieved all the blame for the situation, even though we were looking for a house for a while before. I feel like the office elders handled the situation quite poorly, and just wanted to pass the blame on us. Anyway, with everything that happened, I have really seen the hand of the Lord in the work this week. One, I don't know how I had enough enery to make it through the week, but I know that the Lord blessed me in every day of the week to have just enough energy to get to the end of the day. Also this week, we got 40 lessons, which is significantly better than our usual, as well as that, we found 21 new investigators. I have really seen the fruits of the work, and the blessings of the lord in this week, and although I probably only have 3 weeks in this area, I am happy that I can leave the area behind better than when I got here. We had Fernando, a newer investigator come to church this week. He has a date for the 5 of February, and is progressing a lot. We have already taught him all the 3 lessons, and we are starting to teach him the commandments now. Ramón, the atheist that we have been teaching for a while now has kind of fallen now. We went by his house, and he has prayed three times to know if the Book of Mormon is true, and still doesn't feel like he has had an answer to his prayers. We have literally tried just about everything with him, and I have no idea what more we can do. I am constantly praying to be able to know how we can help him, and we are still trying to help him gain his testimony. Something that I have been trying really hard to work on in this week is pacience. It is something that before, I thought I had a lot of, but here I am realizing that I lack a lot of pacience. I have just been getting really frustrated with my companion, he is just really lazy sometimes, and doesn't really like being obedient very much. It really has taken a ton of pacience being with him, because he just doesn't listen to me when I tell him that he should stop doing something. Anyway, I've jsut been trying to show more love to him, and be more pacient, and he has actually started being more obedient, and wanting to work more. It really has changed the work here so much now that we are getting along better. It still is taking a lot of pacience being with him, but I'm guessing we will only be together 2 more weeks or so. Also I have been getting really frustrated with the members here, because we set days to have them come with us, and they always come up with a last minute excuse. I still need to keep working on my pacience with them, and like you said, remind them of their covenants to help us as misionaries. This last week, of our 40 lessons, only 4 were with a member.... the POS is 17. Anyway I really have seen a lot of blessings of the lord in the work as of late, and although I haven't had a ton of baptisms, I feel like I am doing all that I can do to be obedient, and work in the way that the Lord wants me to. I love you all, and hope that you have a fantastic week. Well, I'll talk to you next week. Love you tons! -Elder Ryan Griffin

18 January, 2011

Wet Package

Hey, well I got my package this week.... and it appears that the Paraguayan mail system sent it here by the rivir.... Half the box was just soaked, and a lot of the stuff in it was ruined. I'm actually not quite sure what happened, but it apparently happened to a couple other packages as well. I had to go through it to try and find the things that weren't ruined, and saved a little more than half of it. The pictures, and the cards from the primary children were still good luckily. I didn't do the whole scripture things on it, because A) a lot were ruined, and B) to be completely honest I didn't really have time to look for them all. Anyway, I got most of the better things that you sent, it was mainly just a bunch of the little candies that went bad. Well, we still haven't been able to find a house this week, and so lucky us, we get to go look for it on P-day. The asistants are coming to do divisions with us, and we have to go look for 3-4 hours to see if we can find something. Pretty much all we have time to do today is email, and a couple other things like shopping quickly. I am kind of frustrated that first they put in in a house with 6 people, and then act like it's our fault that we are stuck like this and so we have to use our P-day to look more.... anyway, I am just trying to stay patient with the whole thing, which is hard because my companion is more frustrated than I am, and wants to just take a P-day later in the week. Anyway besides that, this has been a really good week. On Friday we had interviews with the president. He asked me what my goals are, trying to be sincere I told him that I haven't set any goals for baptisms, but set a goal to keep a higher retention of the people. He apparently didn't really like my answer, because he kind of dropped the cane on me, but helped me to realize that we can increase the amount of baptisms at the same time as retaining them better. The whole interview really helped me to change my view on the mission a little bit, since I've been stuck with a companion that is completely anti-numbers. This week wse found 20 new investigators, most of which are promising ones. We also did better on getting more lessons than the past coule of weeks. Ramon attended church again yesterday, making it his third and last required asistance. He still has a baptismal date for the 22 or this Saturday. He still has some doubts that we need to help him resolve, and he still doesn't feel like he has had an answer to his prayers. We are trying to figure out how to help him either recieve an answer, or recognize it if he has already had it. He has a great desire to know, and I know that with the help of the spirit we can help him be prepared for his baptism this Saturday. We found a new investigator this week named Fernando. He is 17, and met with the missionaries before for a time, and attended church a couple of times. We talked with him, and had left him with moroni 10:3-5 to read. The next time we returned to teach him again, he had not only read that part, but read a part of every book, and part in the front. We set a baptismal date with him for the 5th of February, and left him with the compromise to read and pray. ON sunday, he didn't come to church because he had a problem with his health. We went to teach him, and he told us that he had prayed, and that he felt that it was true. He told us he loves reading the Book of Mormon, and that it is addicting. We left his baptismal date even though he didn't attend, because he had attended before with the other missionaries. We had a lesson with a catholic family as well this week. After we started with a prayer, the wife told us that they are having a difficult time right now, becuase her brother died a couple days ago. We talked to them about the atonement, and read Alma 7:11-12 with them, and while we were talking, she started crying. It was so awesome being able to feel the spirit so stong, and to be able to help somebody through a difficulty in their lives. We have had 2 lessons like that in the past two weeks, and it really is awesome to feel the power of the spirit testifying to the people. This week we went to a place in Asuncion called Super6 to shop. It had American products like peanuts, and barbeque A1 sauce, and mac and cheese but it is way expensive here. Also we have had to drink water like crazy this week. The heat is getting worse and worse, and so we are at the point that we have to drink water in every house that we go to. A lot of times there is just random stuff floating in the water, and so now i'm at the point that I try not to look in it, but i can still feel it going down my throat. Well, now i have to go look for an apartment, so I'll talk to you guys next week, Chao. Elder Ryan Griffin

11 January, 2011

New Microwave?

Well this has been a good week. We are still living with 6 missionaries in our apartment, because we still haven't been able to find a new apartment to be able to move out. It is kind of difficult living with 6 since we only have 1 shower, and 1 fridge for all our food and everything. We have been trying to just make the best of it, until we can move out to a new place.

This week the mission has been giving all the apartments microwaves, and new beds. We had bed frames of wood that were always breaking, and so now we actually have metal bed frames, so now they don't fall all the time. They also gave us some microwaves, so now we can actually cook stuff in microwaves, although there's not really things to cook in microwaves here. I don't know if you guys have sent the other package, but i'm thinking that you can probably just send one pair of shoes for now, and send another pair later in the year. Also some other things that might be nice to have: Icy hot, pills for diarriah, tums, popcorn and some stuff like that.

This week i got sick. We went to our district meeting, and on the way there, I started feeling really sick. We got there, and I had to go behind a tree and throw up for about 5 minutes. We got back after the district meeting, and I just collapsed on the bed and fell asleep. Next thing I new, my companion was sick as well, and threw up. We had to stay in the apartment all day, and at the end of the day, I went out with another elder to finish our contacts. We also went to the farmacy to buy some pills, and we took them and went to sleep. The next day, we both felt better, but still had almost no energy. We went out and worked for the day, but had to walk slow so that we didn't have problems. Now I feel absolutely fine, but it was a long week with being sick and all again.

This week we had a lot of hard days, where we went out and worked all day, only to get 2 or 3 lessons. It is kind of frustrating working so hard, and not seeing the fruits, but what is really important is that I feel like I'm working as hard as I can. This mission seems like it focusus on the numbers, and getting more baptisms, more lessons and everything, so sometimes it's hard not to focus on that so much. I am trying to just focus on the importance of helping the people. There are a lot of missionaries here who just baptize whatever people they can find, and teach quick crappy lessons just so that they can get numbers. One of the things that I am focusing on personally is develop more love for the people, and less love for having good numbers. The first two or three changes, I was really focused on the numbers of the mission. I was always doing whatever I could to get more lessons, even when sometimes it wasn't with the purpose of helping the people. I have just been thinking a lot about what it is that God would want me to do here, and I feel like he would be disappointed in me if I was just doing everything here to get numbers. The president told us to set goals for the new year, and I was thinking about setting a goal of how many people I want to baptize in my mission. I came to realize though, that I don't think it would be a good goal. One, is that to complete it, I have to depend on the agency of other people, and two, even if I complete that goal, I may not help a single person. I think a lot of the missionaries here are way to focused on baptizing people, and end up baptizing a lot of people before they are ready to make those commitments. Then after they have the number, they just leave the people behind, and the become inactive members. The goal I set is to focus more on retention. I think that is one of the biggest needs here in Paraguay, not only to baptize more people into the church that are going to fall away, but to baptize people into the church that are going to stay in the church. I really feel like it's been difficult to humble myself enough to stop focusing on the numbers. Really when I am focused on the amounts of lessons, and baptisms that we are getting, I am working for the glory of myself, trying to make it so other people think I am a good missionary. When I work for the people, and use the numbers as something to help them, it is for the glory of God.

This week Ramon went to church again. He has a baptismal date for the 22 of this month. As of right now, I don't feel like he is completely prepared to be baptized, but he still has time before he needs to be ready. We are still working with him constantly to help him gain a testimony, and answer his questions and resolve his doubts.

Well, I don't have any more time today, but I love you all, and hope to hear from you next week.

-Elder Ryan Griffin

03 January, 2011

Rain, Rain and more Rain....

Alright, if you want to send other stuff, maybe some shoe goo would be nice, I don't know if you sent the little brush for my razor yet, because I still haven't gotten the package.

Well this has been a pretty good week. Sorry that we wrote a little earlier this last p-day, we just come and use the internet whenever is the most convenient, and I thought you guys usually write the night before. After all of that we went to the church and played some ping-pong for like 2 or so hours, and then went back to the house and left for the day. On Friday we had our weekly planning, and then went out to our luch appointment. During the lunch appointment, it started pouring rain, and we got stuck there. While we were there, I realized I had forgotten my nametag, and somehow nobody else had noticed. We had to go drop off our laundry, so we started going over to the house while it was still pouring. While we were walking, my umbrella popped up, and completely broke from all the wind. Anyway, I got soaked going there, and then coming back, then we went to the house to get my nametag. It started raining harder when we got there, and it was new years eve, so there was nobody home anyway. We stayed in the house until it slowed down, and then finally went out. We went by the same member’s house for dinner, which was the same dinner we ate for christmas eve. We got back to the house, and stayed up until 12 or so for the new year. At about 12 or so there were just all sorts of fireworks, firecrackers, and whatever else going off. I took a video of it, but i can’t send it by email, so I’ll have to send it in a cd or something. Anyway, it was just a bunch of loud popping and everything, and didn’t stop until about 12:30 or so. Then we finally went to bed.

On New Years day we went out to work like usual. My companion's parents told him that they were going to call him at 5, so we went to the church to wait for their call. After 50 minutes of waiting we had to have some other elders call them on their phone, and his mom just said that she isn't going to be able to call him.... anyway we went back out and set a baptismal date with another investigator. We had 3 set on Saturday. We had a member set up to go pick up one, and wse went for another, and the other told us he would come by himself. We went to look for the one, and he wasn't in his house, the one that the member went to, also wasn't at home. We got to the church, and about 10 minutes later, sure enough the other investigator came, and all by himself. He stayed throughout the entire 3 hours, and is progressing a ton. His name is Ramon, the one that used to be atheist. Anyway, he has a date for the 22 of this month, and I think he is going t keep it.

We are still living with six elders in one apartment, which is quite crammed. We still haven't had any apartments open in our area, at least not that we know of. We don't exactly go apartment hunting right now, because I don't like wasting time doing that. Anyway, hopefully we can find an apartment soon, so that we don't have to keep living like this, but we'll see what happens. Well, my time is up, I love you guys and hope you had great holidays. I'll let you know once i get my package. Love you all, I'll talk to you later.

-Elder Ryan Griffin