31 May, 2011

Families working toward eternity

Hola familia, Well this week has been a good week for the missionary work. We have 5 investigators with baptismal dates for the 11 of June. 4 of them attended church, and are progressing very well. We also found 15 new investigators in the week, so we are seeing a lot of the hand of god in our work. We had 10 of the 30 people that went to church as investigators. Roberto- We have been teaching Roberto for a while now, and he has a date for the 11. He is a Mennonite…. I think that’s what it´s called, some religion I don’t know anything about. He is about 40 or so. We are teaching him and his wife, but for now she is for some reason not wanting to get baptized with him. Anyway, we set the date with him, and he is very ready to be baptized. He is reading the book of Mormon, and has progressed a lot since we have been teaching him. We are going to be focusing more on his wife after he is baptized so that we can help her also be baptized. Nestor and Mercedes- They are a family that we are teaching as well. They are both younger, and are not married. They want to be married and baptized. The problem is that she doesn’t have her birth certificate (cedula in Spanish) and so we have to help her get that before she can get married. Also Nestor has problems with drinking; his “friends” that he works with always invite him to drink. We are trying to help him leave it behind so that he can be baptized. Santo and Graciela- They are another family that we are teaching that went to church this Sunday. They are progressing really well, and are reading the Book of Mormon. We have the same date for them as the others, and we just need to teach them the rest of the lessons to get them ready for their interviews. They have six children, some of which are his, and others hers. The three youngest ones came with them to church this last week. We are also teaching a family of Paola and Jorge. We haven’t been able to talk to Jorge very much because he is always tired when he comes back from his work. We have taught Paola like 4 times now. She is reading the Book of Mormon, and prayed about it. She told us that she knows it is true, and that she wants to be baptized. We have to talk more with Jorge now, because they have to get married first, and we want them to get baptized together. We are also teaching the boyfriends of two members. I say boyfriends because they live together, and they aren’t married. We are trying to talk the men into getting married so that the members can stop living in sin. So all in all, we are being able to teach a lot of families right now, which is exactly what the branch needs right now. If we can baptize all the families we are teaching we might actually have a real branch here. We are pretty much working with the people that will be the future branch presidents, and elders quorum presidents in the branch. It’s quite the adventure working in an area where the church is still so young, because the church just doesn’t work the same as it does in the states. There are a lot of problems, but we are slowly getting rid of the things that are wrong, since we are the only ones here that actually understand how the church is supposed to work. Well, I love you guys tons, and hope that all is going well with you guys. Thank you for your prayers, and your faith. If there is one counsel I can give you it would be to READ YOUR SCRIPTURES. If there is one thing I have seen in the mission, it’s that the people that read there scriptures are much stronger in the church. Well Love you tons, Elder Griffin

24 May, 2011

No storehouse, no activity

Well I forgot last week, so better late than never, Happy brithday Dad! I hope you had a fantastic birthday. Well this week has been good. Our baptismal date that we had for the end of this week fell. They faced some problems that we are trying to help them overcome. I don't think I have ever seen an investigator that hasn't had some kind of problem that comes up, so it is just something normal at this point. We had about 10 or so people that were supposed to come to church this last Sunday. Only 2 of them ended up coming. We have one family that has a baptismal date for the 18 of June, and another for the 11 of June. We are working hard with a lot of the families that we have found, and trying to strengthen the branch here. Last week we figured out that a lot of the members had left church when they figured out that the president wasn't going to come, because they had only come to church for the storehouse. I felt disappointed to know that we had people coming just for that. Also there are a lot of people in the branch that are living in sin, and not changing. Needless to say, my companion and I did our job of calling the people to repentance on Sunday. I talked about the importance of the Sacrament, and that we need to be coming to church for the right reasons, instead of mocking the sacrifice of our savior. Then my companion talked out of Alma 5, about repentance. Anyway, we dropped the cane on the people a little bit, but for the most part the people said they had learned a lot from our talks, which is what we wanted. We had a zone conference on Friday in Asunción. I learned a ton from the conference, and feel like there are still a lot of things that I need to start doing better. We listened to a talk that Jeffrey R. Holland had given in the MTC that was very direct, and made me think a lot. It's amazing that the better I become, and more I know, the more I realize that I need to better. I really have seen such a giant change in myself in the time I have in the mission. The harder I work, the more god blesses me. It is literally impossible to repay God for everything he does. I am so grateful to be in the mission in a period of so much learning in my life. It makes me want to work as hard as possible to at least do the best I can to repay the Savior for all he has done for me. We are having good success here, and are seeing the hand of the lord in the work. There are things we are trying to do better so that we can start seeing more success. I know that there is a lot more success that we could be seeing in our area, if we do all of our part. Today I have 11 months in the mission. I can't believe how fast it's all passing by. Well, maybe not as much for you guys, but for me it has al flown by. I can't belive that I almost have a year in the mission, I still feel like I just started the mission a couple weeks ago. Well I hope everything goes well in this week. I Love you guys, and am so thankful to have such great parents. Hasta Luego. Jajatapota, Elder Ryan Griffin

17 May, 2011

Swimming with the Croc's

Well this week was a rollercoaster week I would have to say. We started out the week really well. We found 17 new investigators in the week, and 5 of them were families. We have a lot of potential of having a lot of baptisms now. We taught 38 lessons in the week, and of course had a baptism and a confirmation. Early in the week, we had to do divisions with the zone leaders to do the interview of Yessica. I was with one of the zone leaders in our area, and my companion with the other in an area called Itá. The next morning we had to go there to end the divisions. There is a lagoon in there area, that has crocodiles in it. There are like parks around it and everything, kind of weird. Anyway, we were sitting there on a bench waiting for my companion and the other Elder, and we saw a weird thing happen. Some guy just went on the dock, took off his shirt and pants (yes he had underwear on fortunately) and he stood up on the railing for a second, and then jumped off. He swam (quite slowly) to the other side of the lagoon, and was just shouting and stuff. He was definitely high on drugs or something, but it made for an interesting day for sure. During the week we found one family that attended church this Sunday. They have a baptismal date for the 28th of May. They still have to be married, and then baptized, but we are really excited for them. We also talked to a somewhat recent convert (Dora) in the ward about the law of Chastity, of which she had no idea. She is currently living with a man(Fabio, the one that beats her), that is the father of one of her children. She asked us what she can do so that she can live the commandments, and we told her she needs to ask God, but that she needs to separate, or get married. It has to be one or the other. She ended up talking to him, and he is actually progressing and that he is going to come to church this next Sunday. We are also teaching the cousin of Liliana still, who used to be very snakish. We taught her, and she has changed completely, and is progressing a lot. She had a baptismal date, but she didn’t come to church, so it fell. We found another family, Santo and Graciela, that are really good. We have only been able to teach them once, but Santo told us on Saturday that he would come to church if it didn’t rain. We were expecting that he would be like all the others that always tell us that, but he actually did end up coming. We talked to him, and he told us that right now his wife is really sick, and needs blood transfusions, and so she couldn’t go. He told us that they want to be baptized, but that we will have to start teaching them the rest once she is better. On Saturday, it was raining in the morning. We had the baptism for the morning, but ended up having to postpone it until the afternoon. When we were about to leave to go do it, it started raining again. We said a prayer that it wouldn’t rain so that we could do the baptism, and once we got up off our knees, it had stopped. On Sunday our branch president didn't come to church, so we had to direct and teach everything. We are having a lot of potential of baptisms in the area. In reality God has blessed us with many miracles while we have been here. I have seen a big change in my own desires lately in this month. I told you about the 40 day fast that I am doing, and it really is making a big difference. I feel the spirit more in my life. i just feel more.... happy. I can't really explain it, but I really jsut feel a greater desire to share the gospel with the people here, and help them in their lives. The mission really is such a great exerience, I can't believe how much different my feelings toward my savior are after just 11 months in the mission. I love you guys, and Am so greatful for your support. I am so thankful to have such great parents that always taught me the right things to do. I am so grateful for the plan of God that allows us to be together forever. Thank you soooo much for all you have done, and are doing for me. I am forever greatful to you as my parents. Love, Elder Griffin

10 May, 2011

4 dates set

Alright, sorry I only had a little while earlier in the day to send a quick message, but now I will write the actual email. Well this week has been good. My companion and I are getting a long really well, and don't really have any problems. It's so nice having a companion that actually wants to work and serve the Lord. We have been seeing a lot of success and progress in the branch here with the change that we have already had together, and I know the lord is blessing us for our work here. We have 4 with baptismal dates right now. One is Yessica, the daughter of a less active member that is now attending church. She will be baptized this coming Saturday. We have Roberto and Brigida that have one for the 21, the saturday after that. We have been teaching them for a while, and they are doing really well. They are still a little unsure about the baptism, but they are progressing, and I know that they will feel ready by the 21. We also have another one named Lorena, she is the neice of Liliana, and she has a date for the 4th of June. We have seen a lot of progress in the branch for the most part. We pretty much had to start from nothing when we got here, but for the first time this week we didn't have to give the talks in the sacrament meeting. The members that gave the talks apparently didn't know that we don't ask questions in sacrament talks, so they did exactly that. They asked questions, and the worst part, is that the congregation answered! We still have a lot of work to do. We have three people that actually have callings now, so that is pretty good compared to the 0 when we got here. Liliana and José are doing really well still. They have kept going to church every week without fail. Liliana already has a calling, and we gave José a shirt and tie so now he has been able to pass the sacrament a couple of times. It is really awesome seeing how much they have progressed. I don't know if you remember, but they had been at the point of seperating before the day of their marriage, and now they are both very happily married. It is something that has built my testimony to see what the Gospel does to help families become more happy. I know that the Lord has blessed them for being faithful in the church. As long as they stay faithful for the next year, I will be able to enter in the temple with them for their marriage! I'm so excited to be able to have a convert that will get sealed in the temple. The 200 year aniversary of Paraguay is on the 15th of this month. There are going to be lots of parades and celebrations, but I am outside of asunción, so I doubt we'll see that much here. Here in Paraguay, they have the custom of kissing people on both cheeks to greet each other. When we went to one house the other day, a girl tried to do it to me, which surprisingly was the first time that has happened to me. We shook hands first and then she tried to, so I just stiffened my arm and she backed off before she did it. Fortunately we can't do that as missionaries, but it made for an awkward situation. The singing of the hymns is... not so good. I am literally the only person that knows how to sing (on tune or on beat) in the entire branch. My companion is a little tone deaf, so I pretty much have to sing as loud as I can to keep it a little bit on tune, and at the right beat. I think we definitely beat your guys's ward choir. ;) Well it was so nice to hear and talk with you all again, the 40 minutes just flew by. I can't believe that's already the second time we have talked. The time is passing by way to fast on the mission. I don't feel like I should already be getting to one year in the misison. I still have way too much to learn and mature. Well I'll talk to you next week. Tell Jeni, Taylor and Ali sorry I haven't written them very well. We only have an hour to write the family and the president, so I don't really have enough time to do it. Well I'll talk to you next week. Love you guys tons!!!! Thanks for your love and support. -Elder Ryan Griffin

05 May, 2011

Mother's Day Call

Well we didn't have changes, me and Elder Watson stayed together. Elder Watson is now the district leader though, so that was the only change that we saw. So we heard something about Osama Bin Ladin being killed. Apparently there is a little bit of danger in some places for the missionaries because of it. We now can't speak in English in the streets, and we can't tell people that we are American. Kind of crazy. I tried some pig liver for the first time this week. Not really a do again. It isn't terrible, but I can definitely see why we don't eat it in the United States. This last week we walked probably 40 kilometers, which would be about 25 miles or so I believe. We have a wierd area, so we have to walk a lot to be able to go find people. We are finding good people though. We have a baptismal date for a girl of 9 years for the 14th, and then of a family on the 21 of this month. Also we are finding more and more people who are ready to be baptized. I've been really amazed to see the difference in the way I feel with a companion that actually uplifts me. I feel so much happier and closer to the spirit now with our companionship, and I feel like I am progressing a lot more now. Well I don't have a lot of time today, because we were trying to figure some stuff out. I'll talk to you on Saturday though, so I will be waiting your call. Love you guys tons! TTYL Elder Griffin