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