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