18 June, 2012

Time flies

Well, this week has been great. It's still been a little tough in the sense of finding and teaching due to the weather, and other circumstances, but overall things have gone really good this week. On Tuesday we had a really powerful district meeting about faith. We talked about how we can increase our faith to see modern day miracles. I then did divisions with one of the companionship's in the district. I went to Hernandarias 1.1, with Elder Garzon (Columbia). One of the first lessons was a guy that thought he was super philosophical and tried to be super intimidating. We taught him, and talked to him about how the prophets of God have far greater knowledge of philosophy than all the people in the world, and how the gospel was the ultimate philosophy of God. It ended up being a really long lesson due to his desires to talk and be the one to control the conversation, but overall it went pretty well. We had a couple of other good lessons during the day, and that was it.

I have been teaching my companion the biblical history of the Old Testament for the last couple Companionship studies, which has been pretty good for me to go over as well. He has a really good desire to learn and become better, so we've been working on a lot of things this week. We've been having a lot of Gospel conversations about various themes. Elder Stephenson said that he noticed the difference in how he feels between this change and the last change. He said he and his last companion talked a lot about worldly things, and he just wasn't satisfied or at peace. He said that this change he has really felt the difference it has made in his mission by keeping our minds centered on the things of the Lord, and the mission. We have had a lot of really good deep doctrine talks this change, so it has been really good. My companion and I have gotten along really well, and he has changed a lot since he first got here, and now understands the need to consecrate himself more fully to the Lord.

We found a lot of rejections this week. There's not a whole lot of people who actually have desires to follow Christ. We did find a younger couple that we taught, and it was a really good lesson. The spirit was there really strong, and it guided the lesson really well to make it all go through really smoothly. It is always awesome to be able to see the spirit working through us in the peoples' lives. We left them with a Book of Mormon, and at the end the guy told us, well now you've left me with a lot of curiosity to know if this is true..... It is awesome to see people who actually have desires to know the truth.

We are also teaching a woman that has read until 1 Nephi 3 in the Book of Mormon already, in like a week. She is really liking it, and committed to go to church.... unfortunately she has little children, and it has rained the past four weeks, making it so she can't go. We have literally had it rain the past 4 Sundays, without fail, and only on the Sundays. It is still raining right now, and has been for about 24 hours now. We have a tin roof, so it made it a little difficult to sleep last night every time the rain got hard.

Yesterday I had my final interview with President Callan. It was really good. It lasted about 50 minutes, and we talked about some really good stuff. He talked a lot about different goals that I have for after the mission to be able to maintain the testimony and everything that I have become. We talked about temple attendance, studying the scriptures, prayers, and various other things like that. He then expressed how grateful he was that I served an honorable full-time mission. He told me that I have blessed many lives, and helped many missionaries during my time. He also said that he got a letter a couple months back from a missionary thanking president for having put him in my district because the revelation I had received changed his life. It was really cool to hear that from President, and know that I really have given my all. I am so thankful for the mission, and the time I have enjoyed here. The wisdom of the Lord is so great in calling the weak things of the world, and changing those weak things during two years of their lives. I love you guys tons, and thank you for all your support and Love toward me. I am excited to see you once again, and enjoy the time with my beloved family. Love you all.

ELDER Ryan Griffin.....

11 June, 2012

Fort for warmth

Well this has been a pretty difficult week. Things just aren't quite going the way I would like them to seeing as I am going to be leaving this area in a little bit. I'm doing everything I can to find people, and teach them and get them to church and everything, but it's just not happening. I keep thinking the Lord is going to lighten up the burden at some point, but it looks like I still have a lot of things I need to work on to become better. The Lord is really testing me to see if I can endure until the end at this point, it would definitely be easier if I were baptizing and teaching a lot. It takes a lot more diligence and patience to keep working till the end when things just aren't going the way that I want them to. I have been surprised with the fact that I have been able to keep working as long as I have with little to no fruits (as far as baptisms go). The Lord has really been trying to teach me some of the most important lessons during my mission. I just hope that I have been able to learn all of the lessons that He wants me to.

This week has gotten super cold. Our house has absolutely no insulation whatsoever. In fact it has these bricks in the kitchen that have a design in them, and it has holes, letting all the cold air in during the night. Our room is too big, so it doesn't retain the heat at all, so a couple of nights we were freezing, with two blankets and all, we were still super cold. Even moving at all in the bed, would cause us to wake up, and get cold again. It was a couple of miserable nights, with little sleep. The humidity really makes it feel a lot colder than it really is. It gets down to like 40 degrees is all, but it feels a lot colder than that due to the humidity. In mid week, we decided we needed to do something to keep warmer at night. We can't use the stove things we have, because it could be dangerous, so just joking to my companion, I told him we could build a fort. Well, that little joke quickly turned into reality. We literally took our bed frames, and some blankets, and built a little fort in our room, it traps all the heat a lot better, so we've been sleeping nice and cozy the past couple of days. It's kind of weird sleeping in a fort, but hey, ya gotta do what's necessary to stay warm, right?

We both had to give talks this week in church, and the stake presidency was there. I gave a talk about purifying our internal vessel. It went really well. I feel a lot more comfortable giving talks now, at least in Spanish, and here in a small branch with 50 people. The mission has really helped me to be able to turn fears and weaknesses into, well not really strong points, but definitely less weak points. "I give unto men weaknesses so that they are humble. If they humble themselves before me, I will make that there weak points become strong points unto them." Alright, I know it better in Spanish, but it's something like that. Ether 12:6

In our district meeting we talked about having more people with bap. date, and in the meeting. This week compared to last week, we basically doubled both of those as a district. The district is doing really well, just things here in our area aren't picking up like they need to. I have given my best effort, and I will keep doing it until the end, but I seek only to do the will of the Lord. I know that some day, the seeds I have sown, will be ready for the harvest. I'm really glad that the district is doing well though. When I got here, there wasn't a lot of baptisms here, but now they are doing a lot better.

Well, that's about the story of this week. I love you guys tons, and hope all is well. Have a great week! Love ya

Elder Ryan Griffin

04 June, 2012

This is my work and my glory

Well, this week went well. I just got done with a leadership meeting in Asunción. Also my companion got his ingrown toenail fixed finally. This week went well, with the usual difficulties, joys, and spirit of the missionary work.

During the week we focused a lot on finding new investigators. It's turned out to be quite the difficult task seeing as I have almost spoken to all of the people in my area. I really have talked to almost all of the houses, and so when we are looking, I literally have to search for a house that I haven't already knocked. It's been a real trial, because I want to be finding a lot of investigators, and having lots of success, but it's been tough with the fact that I already know almost all of them. We still ended up finding 10 people in the week. A lot of our time has been dedicated to searching. We set a baptismal date with Oscar (22) for the 16 of June. He said he is going to get baptized that day. Please pour out your hearts that he can be prepared and have enough of a testimony to be able to be baptized this next Saturday. We are also working with some other investigators who are starting to progress. Things are going well overall, it's just been rough with not knowing what else to do here in this area. This week, I was thinking a lot about the fact that I haven't had a whole lot of baptisms during my mission, and how I haven't become a zone leader or anything. One of the nights I felt a little bit weighed thinking about that, and I knelt down and started talking with my Heavenly Father. I asked why I had not had more success during my mission, and why things were so hard, even though I have been working as hard as I can to have success and baptize all the time. I received an impression in my mind, accompanied by a sweet feeling of peace. I heard in my mind, "This is my work, and My glory, and I will bring to pass the salvation of men in my own way and time. You have done all that I have asked of you, and my purposes will be fulfilled in it's own time." It really helped me to realize that although I may not have had a ton of baptisms in my mission, I really was able to become a different person. I have had a change of heart, which was something that I could never have achieved by myself. I am so thankful for my mission. It has changed my life, and I am forever indebted to the Lord for what I have learned and become. I wouldn't change my mission for anything. I love the missionary work.

It rained a bunch on Sunday, and so only Oscar went to church, but he is progressing well. It was a really good testimony meeting. Things are going pretty good here.

My companion is doing well. He is a really good elder, he lacks a little bit of consecrating himself more, but I'm working on that with him. He has really good desires to serve, and be a good missionary. He made a lot of changes in his life to come on the mission, so it is cool to see somebody that really had to turn their life around to come on the mission. We get along really well.

My old companion, Elder King, is assistant now. I saw him and chatted with him a little bit today in the leadership meeting. He'll be going up to Utah State as well, but he leaves 3 months after me. The leadership meeting was really good, and President gave the 5 of us that were the a chance to bear our testimonies. It was really cool to be able to be that missionary at almost the end, bearing testimony of the changes the mission has made in my life. I don't have much time, so I'll have to talk to ya more next week. Love you guys tons. Hope all is well back home. I hope you're all studying your scriptures tons, so we can have some good deep doctrine talks in a little while. ;) Love you guys.

Elder Ryan Griffin

28 May, 2012

Rain, Rain go away, come back in July

Well, this week has been pretty interesting. I got the flight plans today, and forwarded them to you guys. This week we had a lot of rain, and mud. The Paraguayans get into a grumpy mood when the winter starts up. ;) Well, really we just had a lot of door clapping, and whatever else we could think of to try and get into a door.

We found out a trick this week. It turns out that when people don’t answer on the first time of clapping, if you clap for a longer time the next time, they almost always come to the door. Now, as far as getting into the door, that’s a whole different story.

We found some pretty interesting people during the week. We clapped this one house, and a young guy answered, we asked if his parents were there, and he went to go get them. Then out came a Samurai looking man, with long hair and a long beard. He sat down with us, and started going off about how the United States was founded by the devil, and how they just pick on other countries to rob and plunder them. Then he told us that the US planned out the attack on the twin towers, and all this different stuff that he was pretty convinced about. He also told us about this new world organization that was planning on killing 80 percent of the world by vaccination. (good thing I never get vaccines.) finally we were able to get him off that subject, and on to the gospel. We started trying to share the Restoration, and he just said, OK, and you are trying to get to the fact that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet, let’s just cut to the chase. Then he started going off on his religion. Some Israelite church or something like that. He then took the picture of Jesus Christ of the Sermon on the Mount, and explained to us that Jesus Christ had long hair, and a beard, and that it is the appearance of God. He told us that god requires us to have long hair and a beard like that (Ha, good thing I still can’t grow a beard even if I wanted to), and that Satan tries to get us not to, because when he was cast out of heaven, his beard and hair were cut off…… Then he started telling us that God has already come for the second time. Where you might ask? In Peru. Some guy that apparently claims to be God, his name is Ezekiel Jonas. Yeah, we basically just left, and never went back to that guy.

On Tuesday, we ate lunch with some members. They gave us beans, rice, salad, and stake (well as close as you can get to stakes here anyway). It was actually really, really good. My companion and I both ate not two, but three heaping plates of it. The next hour of walking was miserable while we were waiting for the food to be digested. It was definitely worth it though.

We have an investigator that is getting really close to the baptism. Oscar, the one that we have been teaching for a while now. He is really progressing now, and really making the changes in his life that he needs to so that he can be prepared to get baptized. We have had to drop a lot of different people due to their lack of interest, or lack of doing. It’s really sad to get so close to some of the people and then see them just fall due to the temptations of Satan.

My companion and I get along really well. He has a lot of really good desire to learn more and become a better missionary. He has been senior comp for the last couple changes, and so he is really excited to have an older comp and be able to learn some more stuff. We get along really well also, so it’s nice having that for my last companion.

Well, that’s about it for this week, Love you guys tons, and hope everything goes well this week. See ya.

Elder Ryan Griffin

21 May, 2012

Changes, eye problems

Well, as you know we had changes this week. Me and my companion got a change. Elder Richard got shipped out to another area, and I'm staying here in my area for my last change. That'll be 5 changes in total in one area. My new companion is Elder Stephenson, from Nampa, Idaho. He has a year in the mission, so he is a little older than my last companion. He is really cool, and we get along really well so far.
So on Tuesday we got the changes, and my companion and I went around so he could say goodbye to the people. Basically the whole day was spent doing that, so it was pretty boring.... Then wednesday I got my new companion, and we worked in our area.
On Thursday, we finally got to do a service project with a member. His house is like a 30 minute walk from our house, and half way out, my companion realized he had forgotten a change of clothes. We were already a little bit late, so we just went anyway, and I ended up getting to dig a meter deep whole, basically by myself, and my comp got stuck carrying the buckets to go dump out the dirt. It was awesome to actually get a little bit of some manual labor going finally. It's been a while since I've been able to do some hard work in that sense. I'm glad I got lots of practice for that back home with all our digging and stuff in the yard. It was really good getting that done. Later that night, I had to go to another area, to do an interview for a baptism. We were on the freeway waiting for the bus to come, and all the sudden a beaten old truck starts pulling over, and this crazy looking dude just told us to get in his car. We were both kind of sceptical, seeing as we didn't know the guy, and he looked slightly insane, or drunk or something. Then we both just shrugged, and opened the door to the car. There was only one seat, so we got to share that, and I got stuck right on the shifter...... yeah awkward situation when your with a crazy guy. We started going, and I asked the guy how he was, to which he replied "lots of women." Me and my comp just looked at each other, and then he asked, ok, well what is your name. He replied, "there are a lot of them, there's 5 different women." We started kind of wondering what was going on, and then I asked ok, well where are you going to? He said "lots of women." Me and my companion both got a little worried, thinking he was going to take us to a whore house or something at that point. Then I decided to change the theme. I asked him, how is your relationship with Jesus Christ in your life. Then he finally started being half way normal. He said he goes to the Catholic church, and that he already follows Jesus in his life. We conversed for a couple minutes, and then we got to our destination. I left him a law of Chastity pamphlet. Later, the interview went really well. It was a 16 year old kid, and he is really mature. It was a really spiritual interview.
On Friday, after lunch, we went ot Oscar, the one we have been teaching for a while. He had us sit down outside, and then went in to get something. Right as we sat down, a pretty big bug flew right into my eye. When it hit, my natural reaction was to close my eye, so it got stuck in between my eye lids. I tried to get it out, and then all the sudden my eye started burning like crazy. I finally got a hold of the bug, and threw it, and then I ran in Oscar's house, and asked them for some water to wash out my eye. I sat there for about 15 minutes just trying to splash water on it, trying to take away the pain. The pain went down a little bit, and we went back out front, and I kept splashing water on it for about an hour. I got a hold of the mission nurse, and she told me to go to our house, and rinse the eye with purified water. For thirty minutes, we walked to get back to the house, me with just one eye working. We finally got there, and rinsed it out with water good. It was already swollen and miscolored pretty good. Afterwards we went out and started working again. We went to Reinaldo and Silvia, and they asked what happened. I told them, and they told me that all I had to do to make it better, was put breast milk in my eye...... Then they asked if we knew anyone who was feeding...... We just said no, and then, he told his wife to go over to the neighbors house to go get some to put in my eye. Before I realized what was going on, She was coming back, and literally had a cap full of breast milk she had just brought from her neighbors house. I know you're probably thinking right now, "don't tell me you put that in your eye." Don't you worry, I was not going to allow that to be placed in my eye. They tried to convince me to do it, but we left their house, my eye being breast milk free. Crazy Paraguayan remedies.....
So on Saturday, I woke up, and low and behold, my eye was swollen up like a golf ball. Ok, well not the eye itself, but the skin around it. I could hardly even open my eye because it was so swollen up. I called the nurse again, and she gave me a prescription, and I have been taking that, but my eye is still swollen and I can't even open it at all...... no just kidding, don't worry mom, I'm perfectly fine now. The eye is back to normal, and I can see just fine. Lesson learned though, don't let Paraguayan bugs pee in your eye..... it hurts.
I also got a call from some elders in my district on Friday, they told me that they had found a dead man, and that they didn't know what to do. They wanted to know if they should call the cops or not. Yeah, that was a good surprise, that one wasn't in my manual. Well, turns out that a lot of the people told them that they shouldn't call the cops, because then they would become suspects, so I just told them to tell someone else to call the cops....... crazy stuff that happens here in Paraguay.
Well, on the whole missionary work side of things, We had a lot of distractions, and stuff that happened, so not a whole lot happened this week. We did find a seventh day adventist guy, just so happened we found him on Saturday (their sabbath day). We sat down and talked to him, and of course he brought up the whole seventh day first day argument. We just brushed passed it pretty smoothly, and actually had a pretty good lesson with him. We have another appointment with him today, we'll see how that goes.
We also had a lesson with this guy that is named Úbaldo. He was committed to go to church, and on Saturday, we passed by and he said he just can't do it, he doesn't want to change churches. He told us he knows that the Catholic church (where he attends) is false. He told us they are the decendent of those that killed Jesus. He also made a reference to them as the biggest parasite upon the earth. And yet, he doesn't want to change churches. Yeah, I don't really understand it either. Crazy stuff.
Well, things are going pretty good, we're having a little bit of a hard time in the area right now, but this week is a new week, so we're going to change things up here.
Love you guys tons, and hope all is going well. Have a great week. Congratulations on the 50th Dad. Love you guys
Elder Ryan Griffin

14 May, 2012

Mother's day call

Well, It was great hearing you guys again. I'm glad to hear everything is going well back home. I really have realized the importance of the family being here in the mission. It's really something that I took for granted before the mission. Sometimes we really have to have things taken away from us for a time to realize how important they really are to us. I love you guys tons and am so thankful for such great parents that are such great examples in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really realize now how wicked the world is, and how much iniquity and sin there is in this world. It's something that I never really realized being raised in a home where we were taught the gospel standards. I think about how my life would have been being raised in a home where the gospel was not a great importance, or a home with parents that didn't live the gospel. I really realize that I have been so blessed to have the gospel in my life, and to be in a home full of love, and a safe haven from the evils of the outside world. The gospel is the remedy of all the problems in this world, and we are so blessed to have it in our lives. I'm thankful as well to know that I have such great siblings that live the gospel in their lives. I see so much suffering in families when the children make bad decisions and the whole family suffers from those choices. We are so blessed to have a united family where all seek to put in practice the principles of the Gospel.
This week was a great trial for us once again. I've just come to accept the fact that I still have a long way to go before I become what the Lord expects me to be. I pray daily that by the end of my mission, I can become what he expects me to be, I guess I have to accept the trials and tribulations that He gives me to help me get there. It is one of the hardest things to have to see people not making the right decisions to make their way through the eternal progress toward exaltation. I have really come to understand the scripture in Mosiah 28:3(I think that's where it is) that talks about the sons of Mosiah that couldn't bear the thought of one soul having to suffer an eternal torment. It really makes me just stop thinking about myself and my well being and worry about what these people need to have more joy in their lives. I have spent most of my life thinking about myself and my needs, but the mission has really taught me to worry about others.
We had a really rough time finding our investigators during this week. We tried everything we could to find people, and do what we needed to do to start seeing baptisms. Despite our many efforts and prayers, our struggles ended up getting only one of our investigators in church. We ended up finding a lot of new investigators due to the fact that everything was falling the whole week. We have almost talked to everyone here in this area. I am to the point that when I do contacts in the street, about 50 percent of the people we try to talk to, we have already talked to at some point. I love the struggles of the mission! I've never done something so difficult and frustrating in my life, but at the same time I've never felt so much joy and peace in my life. I always was worried about things before the mission, and I really realize I always felt like there was something lacking in my life. That lacking really has been filled through the missionary labors.
In the zone conference, President Callan talked about our missionary purpose a lot. It was the most spiritual conference that I can remember. He also talked about the fact that he wants us all to be excited to go back home, and continue our progress after. I left very edified and excited ot keep working after the conference.
We had a fun process of trying to make a map this week. We went exploring a little bit in our area, and after a couple days we got a map, about 7 papers worth, so it is pretty big. We now have a map in our area. We feel like that is going to help the other elders after us in this area a lot to be able to manage the area better. Hopefully they enjoy it.
We will be knowing the changes later tonight. I'll be letting you guys know what happened next week. I love you guys tons, and hope that all is well back home. Thank you guys for all you do, and for your love and support.
Elder Ryan Griffin

07 May, 2012

The Lord tries those whom he loves‏

Well, as the title of the email states, this week was quite a trying one. All of the things I have learned as a missionary, all of my development, and training, and learning all were tested in a trial of faith for my companion and I. The week turned out to be a complete roller coaster, and unfortunately not your typical fun roller coaster. It was probably one of the hardest weeks of my mission, but it really taught me something. My mission has really changed me. Earlier in my mission, I didn't take all that well to all the trials, and frustrations of the missionary work. Now as a "veteran" missionary I really have learned how to just trust in the Lord and push forward regardless of what happens.

On Tuesday, I did divisions with one of the companionships in my district to do the interview of a guy that was to be baptized. The interview went really well, and the divisions were good. The man that was to be baptized was super prepared. He was studying the BOM, principles of the Gospel, and duties of the priesthood, and some of the Liahonas. He really had a true hunger to know more. It was a really spiritual experience to be able to interview him for the baptism. I love the interviews, because I can share my testimony with them, and hear their testimony as a new(future) member.

I got back from divisions to find out that everything (OK, maybe not everything, but basically) had fallen in our area the day before. The family, Reinaldo and Silvia, said they found out they couldn't get married, because his wife didn't have her documents for Paraguay (she is Brazilian) and that they weren't going to be able to get married and baptized this week. Also our other investigator, Oscar that had a date for this week, was drinking with some buddies when they passed over there. The whole day was apparently a pretty good mess.

The next day, we went to the civil register (for marriages) and found out more information. It turned out that they could in fact get married and everything was fine. We went out to their house later to tell them the good news. When we sat down and started talking, they said that they needed to get the documents first, for migration, and passport and everything, or it would cause problems later on. They said it would make a lot of things harder if they get married before taking care of that. Then they said they made the decision to wait on the marriage and baptism because of those problems, and that it would take about 6 months to get it all done.

We of course investigated thoroughly to find out the law on that. We first talked to a member from Argentina that lives here and is married to a Paraguayan. He told us that it is actually easier if they get married, to get the documents and migrations and everything else. Then the next morning we talked to 3 different judges that all confirmed the same, it is in fact easier to get the documents, and migrations if they get married first. So we realized there had to be something else behind the whole doubt there. We talked to them that night, and asked some good questions before telling them what we had found out, and found all of the iceberg that was under there. They just feel like they need a little more time to prepare.

With Oscar, we visited him on Wednesday. We talked to him about some stuff, and he is still smoking and drinking. There was a slight pause in the lesson, and Oscar asked my companion what he was thinking. To which he replied that he was thinking about a remedy for smoking where you put cigarettes in water, and drink it, which makes you not want to smoke anymore. So what did we do, well lets just say we did a little bit of an experiment. We put 8 cigarettes in a glass of water, and he drank half of it. That was on Wednesday. He still has yet to smoke since then, going on 5 days now. There were some pretty ugly side effects though, some of which were throwing up, stomach aches, headaches, and throat pains..... but those only lasted a couple of hours, and since then he hasn't smoked.

On Sunday, we didn't have any investigators in the meeting, the first time in like 3 months now..... it kind of just set in everything else that had happened during the rest of the week.

Overall, it was a pretty rough week, and my companion was getting really frustrated with it all. (the same I would have done earlier in my mission) Regardless of it all, I had one thing in mind. Trust in the lord with all thy heart. I know that regardless of what happens here in this area, the Lord knows what he is doing. Every day, I pray that the will of the Lord be fulfilled, and I must live by that principle. My mind is set in doing the will of the Lord, and so all I can do, is stay happy, and keep giving everything I've got. If the people don't get baptized right now, in my time, and in my way, they will be in the lord's time and in the Lord's way. I have no doubt that the Lord will do what's best. As long as I am doing all I can, I have no need to worry. This week is a new week, and whatever happens, I will keep praying that the will of the Lord be done, and do all that I can to fulfil that.

I love you guys tons, and pray for you always. Have a great week, and keep pressing forward with a steadfast faith in Christ. Thank you for your examples, and for all you have taught me. Love ya.

Elder Ryan Griffin

23 April, 2012

Fast ride on a double decker

Well, this week has been a really good week. We've had our ups and downs, our joys and sorrows, the trials and blessings...... but most important we know we are doing the work of the Lord. We are strengthening our faith, developing the celestial attribute of patience, and really learning to be firm in our faith.
To start off the week, we went to Asunción on Monday, like I told you guys last week. We got home at about 9 or so. Our bus driver was crazy. He was in a big hurry, but the good news is, we got to our destination 30 minutes early, in rush our traffic. He was just flying around, passing people up hills around corners...... in a double decker bus! The greatest is that we had front row seats for the whole show. We were up top in the very front, so we witnessed the whole ride home. Lets just say there wasn't a whole lot of sleeping that was getting done on the drive home. It was quite a "on the edge of your seat" experience. We passed literally everybody and everything on the road, we were the fastest ones driving around. We got home, and weren't able to do anything else during the day.
On Tuesday, we talked about the consecration, or dedication to the work of the Lord in the district meeting. It was spiritual, and went really well. We also talked about the baptismal invitations, because the district has fallen big time on that. The rest of the day Tuesday, was a trial to our faith, and our enthusiasm that we still had from the last week. We literally knocked a good 40 doors, and only got into one lesson with a couple, but it was only for 5 minutes, and then they had to leave. We didn't find any news during the day, which was really tough. We maintained our enthusiasm really well, and kept on pushing hard the whole day. We also went and taught the family that had attended church the last week. They are progressing really well. We taught them the plan of Salvation, and it went really well.
On Wednesday, we actually were able to find some good new investigators. We found 4 in total. We had branch night, and one of the young women brought a friend, and they wanted to learn English. So we brought a male member to be present, and taught them some English. We taught them how to pray in English..... Something I've almost completely forgotten. It went really well, and the friend asked us some questions about what we do as missionaries.
On Thursday, we were guided to an investigator who´s wife died on Monday. Literally, out of thousands of people in our area, we happened to find him 3 days after his wife had died. He had taken it pretty hard, and started drinking because of it. We had a really good lesson with him, and he is progressing now. He wasn't able to attend church, but he committed to attend this week. We also had a good lesson with Reinaldo and Silvia (the ones that attended church) and talked to them about the law of Chastity, since they aren't yet married. They agreed, and said they would talk about it.
On Friday, we really got pushed to our limits of faith and patience. It was raining basically all day, and so most of our appointments fell. Since people don't sit outside when it's raining, we only had one option left..... knock doors. We knocked doors for a good 4-5 hours of the day, in the mud, and rain trudging around, just trying everything to get into a lesson. Every single person we talked to just either flat out rejected us, or said "come back another day" (the Paraguayan way of saying I'm not interested). We just kept going and going with nothing else to do. During the day, we knocked a good 60 houses, and the result of the day...... zero new investigators, and some muddy shoes and pants. The most important result..... our faith and enthusiasm for the work, still at 100%. I honestly don't know how, but after all, the whole time we we happy, and just pushing along the whole day. We came back happy and content for having done everything we could in some not so desirable circumstances.
On Saturday, the day started out the same, we knocked about 10 houses in the morning, and nothing. Then we saw a family sitting outside, we went over and taught them. Where is there house you might ask? Well right in front of the huge Catholic church here in our area. They were really intelligent, and understood really well about why it was important to have prophets and everything. They already had a Book of Mormon, but they said that this time they were really interested and wanted to know if it was true. They said they have had a bunch of other missionaries that have come over, but they never really had interest, but that this time we explained everything really well, and they said it made them want to know if it was true. Well, I don't say that to say we are better than other missionaries, obviously we are teaching the same message. It was just a miracle to see that someone who has already heard the message, when taught by the spirit, are a lot more open, and willing to experiment. On the other side of the spectrum, we also taught a guy that just wanted to argue with us after lunch. We sat down, and he started going off about how his church has prophets, and all this other stuff. After 15 minutes, I asked him what church it was. He has gone there for 25 years, but he replied, oh it doesn't have a name yet...... what? Well apparently his prophet is still pending on that revelation..... Anyway, we tried to get into a lesson, but before we could say a prayer or anything, he said, You know what I don't like about your church? He asked who's name we baptize in. I replied, in the name of Jesus Christ. He said, no but if you were to baptize me, what would the words be that you pronounce. I said, well in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Ghost. He said, well that's where you guys go against the Bible. It says that Paul baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I told him we weren't here to fight, and that we were going to leave if he wanted to argue about stuff. He just said he wasn't arguing, and then continued reciting off all these different scriptures from memory, just trying to show off how well he knows the Bible. So I pulled out my bible, and right off he just said, go ahead and look up Mathew 28:19 (just happened to be the scripture I was about to pull out) It is the part where Christ tells his disciples to baptize in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost. He said that after Christ said that the apostles received revelation that it really meant in the name of Christ, and that it should only be that. So then, I just pulled out the Book of Mormon (the easy way to win a bible bash) and showed him 3 Nephi where Christ teaches in the Americas to baptize in the way we do. He then pulled out a scripture in the bible that says that if someone announces a different gospel than what Christ left, it is cursed. I told him, well yeah, you are changing what Christ himself taught, so you are right there. He kept arguing and asked, in who's name did Paul baptize. I just told him, well yeah he baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, just like he preached in the name of Jesus Christ, and just like it says that the apostles met in the name of Jesus Christ. When somebody does something with the priesthood of Christ, then they are doing the action in the name of Jesus Christ. After that he kept arguing, so we just left the lesson. He was just there to argue, so there wasn't anything else left to do.
On Sunday, our attendance fell..... We still had 3 investigators, but the family we were teaching didn't come to church for some reason. Our baptismal dates basically fell, and now we really have to do some repairing this week. Things are still looking up a lot. We have a ton of investigators that are progressing really well, and that are really interested in knowing more. We have a lot of work to do, but it's just a matter of time before we start seeing some more baptism.
Today we had interviews with the President. They went really well. President talked about some stuff that I had on my mind, and really was guided by the spirit to help me with some questions. That's about all for this week. It has been a good one, and my health is all good..... well all except for the back. My back isn't doing so well from all the walking on empedrado, but it's just minor back pains, nothing to big. I can't keep on any weight here, because of all the walking and everything. I am doing really well. I'm happy, and excited for the work. I love you guys tons. Thanks for everything.
Elder Griffin

16 April, 2012

Elders on Bikes

Well, this week has been really good. We have seen a lot of miracles in our area, and things are really starting to pick up. We are seeing the hand of God work in our behalf here, and we are both doing really well. I'm actually writing you from Asuncion right now. We had to travel here for an operation. Don't worry though, I'm fine. My companion is the one that had to be operated. He had an ingrown toenail that was getting pretty bad. We left our house at two in the morning, and after 8 hours on a bus(there was only indirect ones at that time) we finally got to the office. The operation was fine, they just cut his toenail a little bit, and now he should be alright.

We now have bikes in our area. Some other elders in the district had them, and weren't using them, so we were able to take them to our place, and now we use them to go out to a part of our area that is like a 30 minute walk. It's saved us a lot of time this week. The only problem, is that the roads here are all cobble-stone, and so it's not exactly the most comfortable to ride them. On top of that the seat is hard as a rock, and they don't have any shocks. Can't complain though, it beats walking that far. It is really weird riding a bike after so long though, it just feels weird not to walk. We don't use them all that much, only every other day to get out to Ca'acupemi, and then we leave them at a member's house. The people in our area just can't get over the fact that we are using bikes, because they always just see us walking around everywhere. Now when they see us they yell, "hey look, the Mormons are using bikes now!"

Well, the long dry streak is over finally. After 5 months now, I finally got to see a baptism again. We had the baptism of Miriam on Saturday. My companion baptized her, and everything went over pretty well. The only problem was that all the people that said they were going to come, didn't. We only had her family there, which was a little disappointing. Other than that, it went well, and she got confirmed. We made a cake, and all the people really liked it. It was a jello-cake, new innovation for them.

On Sunday, we had a miraculous turnout.... of investigators anyway. We had 8 investigators in the meeting. I think that was the most I have ever had. The attendance was 45, so the members were really surprised, and now the branch president is actually getting excited, he sees that we are going to be baptizing a bunch here, so they realize now that they gotta start getting stuff going. Oscar came again. We have been teaching him a lot. He is trying to stop smoking and drinking. We did a fast with him on Saturday, and he didn't smoke any cigarettes during that time. He has a baptismal date for this Saturday, but we are thinking he still needs another week. We also had Clarise there, the sister of Miriam. She is 9, and so we are still waiting on her baptism until she has more support from the parents. Right now she has a date for the 28. Their dad came, but the mom is not really caring at all. She did come to the baptism at least. We also had a family of 5 that came. Renaldo and Silvia, and their son, and 2 nieces. They are progressing really well, and have a baptismal date for the 5th of May. We have been finding some really good people as well, so right now we are having the potential to start baptizing almost every week in our area. It would really be a miracle if we can pull that off seeing as in the last two years, this area has had 6 baptisms.

We get to spend the rest of our p-day on a bus for at least another 6 hours to get back to cuidad del Este, that'll be really fun. We are both doing really well, still getting along well and everything. That's about the gist of what has happened this week. It's been a little rainy, and has cooled down a little bit. One of the only three active men in our ward, and the one with a car just got divorced with his wife(non-member) and no longer lives in our ward..... that definitely didn't help us a ton. Well, that's all for this week. Love you guys tons and hope you all have a great week. Until next time, hasta luego.

Elder Ryan Griffin

09 April, 2012

Semana Santa

Well, this week has been a nice interesting one. First things first, changes were on Wednesday. My companion and I both stayed another change together. We are now going on our 3rd change together out here, we were both excited to find out we were going to stay here, because we wanted to stay together another change. We are still getting along really well, and things are looking pretty good in our area.
Alright, so to start off the week, well I got a little bit sick. I had a fever hit on Monday shortly before we had to leave for proselyting. Well, we left anyway, and tried to work, but it got so bad that I ended up having to come back to the house and just collapsed on the bed, and fell asleep. Later, on Tuesday, we had to go to district meeting, and I still didn't feel very good, so when we came back, I took a nap before we left to go out and work again. We left, and I lasted a couple of hours, but then it got so bad again, that we had to give up, and come back to the house. Turns out that with a fever, it is not in fact better to just "toughen it out," and go out to work. I figured that one out the hard way. Finally on Wednesday, I just took a sick day, and slept a bunch. It helped a lot and fortunately, I felt mostly better on Thursday for my Birthday. In total I slept about 34 hours in 3 days..... not exactly the way I like spending days in the mission.
On Thursday..... well lets just say it was definitely an interesting Birthday. I had just recovered from being sick, so we went out and worked normal for the first day in the week. This week was what the Catholics call "Semana Santa," or holy week, in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ..... or at least that is what is is supposed to be for. As far as people actually doing that, well that's another matter. Anyway, we went to our lunch appointment on Thursday, and low and behold, the member wasn't there. We called him, and he was somewhere else. OK, well our area doesn't exactly have and "restaurants," so we started looking for a dispensa (a little in home store at peoples' houses). We walked around, and couldn't find any that were open. Oh, but don't you worry; the lord didn't forget us there. We were provided a meal from the heavens.... literally. We looked behind us, and saw red skies. Well, that wasn't something I had seen before, so we didn't know what it was. Shortly thereafter, we found out what it was. A dust storm. Now you have to understand that where we live, there is a lot of dust. The streets are basically all just red dirt. In other words, there was a lot of dust. So what did we eat for lunch you might ask, well a lot of dust. In the eyes, in the mouth, on the shirt, everything you might imagine. Well, after that, the feast wasn't over, we also had a nice little bit of rain to quench our thirst after that, so everything turned out quite nice. OK, but on the real story, you are probably wondering what we really did eat. Well, we went to an investigators house, and they just happened to be eating lunch. They offered, and we accepted. So we actually did end up eating some lunch. At the end of the day, we had a cake, and some candles, and lit them and all that traditional stuff, and that was the 21st Birthday. Honestly I probably would have been frustrated before the mission if a Birthday had have gone like that, but here in the mission, I was so focused on helping other people, that it really didn't even phase me. I was still really happy the whole day.
On Friday, nobody was home. We walked around a lot, and were only saved by the fact that we had to go and do an interview for some baptisms in the district. I did two interviews of two young kids. One is 14, and the other 11. They were baptized on Saturday. after the interview, we were sitting by a park, waiting for a bus to get back to our area. The Catholics here have a strange tradition. On Friday, they set up the street with a bunch of candles, and stuff, and then they have a man walk with a "cross," until the plaza, and then the crucify them. Not literally, but they literally put them up on a cross for a while. You might be wondering how I know this.... well, my companion and I saw it first-hand, all while we were waiting for the bus. It was quite possibly the strangest thing I have ever seen. We were so weirded out, we just decided to jump in a taxi and get home.
Side note, I finally figured out what the strange noises the parrots behind our house are making. We were walking by one day, and the dog had a squeaky toy that it was playing with. For a second I thought the parrots were making their noise, but then I looked, and the same exact noise was coming from the toy. They've been imitating a squeaky toy this whole time. Well, it hasn't really made it any less annoying.
On Saturday and Sunday, they were the only half way normal days we had during the week. On Sunday, we had 5 investigators in the meeting. Miriam(13), who is going to be baptized this Saturday (Yay, first baptism in like 5 months!) and Clarise(9), her sister, that is going to be baptized the 28. Also Oscar(22), and his little brother Lucas(13). Also a little boy named Carlos(9). Oscar is progressing a lot. We taught him the word of wisdom, and shared a scripture in Galatians 5 more or less verse 12. Anyway, it talks about the spiritual and the carnal. It really helped him to see the need to stop drinking and smoking.
My district is doing better right now. We are finally starting to see some baptisms. This district has been the lowest baptizing in the mission for a while, and lately we have been just average, but this month we are one of the highest in the mission.
On Sunday, my companion and I had to teach the priesthood lesson. We were told about 5 minutes after the meeting started. Well, for an improvised lesson, it actually went pretty well. We talked about how the Savior talked a lot about the missionary work after his resurrection, and that it is because he expects each and every one of us to be witnesses of his resurrection, and invite others to come unto him.
Well, that's about the story of this week. I love you guys tons, and hope you had a great Easter. Have a fantastic week. Love,
Elder Griffin

02 April, 2012

General Conference on April 1 not a joke

Well, this general conference was amazing. I felt very uplifted and edified from the spirit and the strength that those great apostles bring at there age. It is amazing to me how happy and loving each and everyone of them are, despite there health, and other problems. We were able to see all five of the sessions, but some of them were cutting out on the connection, so we didn't see them very well. Some of them that we only got bits and pieces of were on Saturday Evening. Dallin H. Oaks talk, and Henry B. Eyring as well....... yeah, I know they were both really good talks. The lord was definitely testing our patience on that one.
On Sunday, we had 3 investigators. We had Miriam and Clarise, the daughters of the members. They have a baptismal date for the 14th. We still have some work to do there, so we could use your prayers on their behalf. We also had another investigator, Oscar that is 22 years old. He actually had a friend take us to the conference on Sunday, and take us back afterwards. He seemed to like it. He is a really smart guy, so I think it really impressed him some of the talks that the apostles gave. He also has a date for the 14th.
I was praying and fasting to be able to receive some answers to questions and other stuff that I had for the conference. One of my questions was why when I am praying to see miracles in my mission, and have a desire to baptize every week, why it doesn't happen. Almost at the very end of the conference, Neal L. Anderson really just hit that one on the head. After he was done explaining about the Haiti earthquake, where the father found his 3 children, he basically said exactly my question. At that point, it really grabbed my attention, and he taught: If the miracles we seek do not come to pass in this life time, they will come to pass in the next. And also he taught The lord will make more of you than you can ever make of yourself. Well, as far as the first line he said, I was kind of indifferent at first, as to what it was teaching..... Then I realized, the mission is like a life inside of our actual life. Although I am not be able to see baptisms every week right now in my mission, I am planting seeds for others to be able to see that miracle. I also really like the last phrase, the Lord can make more of you than you can ever make of yourself. I looked back at the past 21 months of my mission, and I really realize that it has been perfect. I have no regrets. I have given my all to the Lord, and he has made of me more than I could have ever made of myself. I still have yet to see these miraculous changes, and bless the lives of others. I am so thankful for the Lord and how he really knows each and every one of us. I am so thankful that he answers my prayers, and that he has molded me into a different person with his hands.
After the Saturday priesthood session, we got out at 11. There was no more collectivos, so we had to resort to taxis. To save money, we decided that our whole district was going to get into the same taxi. The taxi pulled up, and well, lets just say it wasn't the biggest car I've ever seen. I think it's only meant for 4 people in total. However, all 8 of us got into the car. We had to resort to throwing two elders in the trunk..... don't worry it was just one of those trunks that is in connected with the rest of the car, not a separate compartment. We had 4 of us on a seat where there was only room for two, and 2 up front with the driver. 9 people in one little car designed for 4. It was a pretty awkward and not comfortable experience, but makes for a good story.
We also have changes.... this Wednesday. We still don't know anything, but either one of us could go, or both of us could stay. We're not really sure. We are both hoping that we can stay to be able to see some fruits from all our labor, but the Lord will work it out. No worries. Anyway, I'll let you know next week what happens. I may be spending my birthday in a new area, with a new companion. We'll see.
Anyway, love you guys tons, and if you could, please send the talks of elder Oaks and Elder Eyring next week so I can know what they said. Thanks a ton. Love ya lots.
Elder Griffin

26 March, 2012

Is not this the fast I have chosen? Isaiah 58:6-12‏

This week we saw a lot of miracles in our area. Things are looking up a lot, every week we are seeing more and more progress in the branch. This week I have a lot to be thankful for and to really wonder at the great power and mercy that the Lord has shown to us.

On Tuesday, we talked about the importance of obedience in the District meeting. We talked about the importance of the rules, and how it is there to help us be apart from the world. I think it was good for the district, and I felt like it was something some of the elders were forgetting about. After that, I did divisions with the Zone Leaders again. I went with Elder King again.... I don't know why his companions never want to do divisions with me.... Anyway it went good, we found some good people, and talked to a guy that had lived in the US, in South Carolina. He spoke English of course, and we talked a little bit to him. Turns out he was found with a gun, without a licence, so he had to go to jail for 6 months, and then he couldn't renew his residency card, so he had to leave and come back to Paraguay. He wanted to go to church, because he says he wants to go to a Christian church, but all he can find is a bunch of Catholic churches. ;)

On Wednesday, it was back with my companion again. We knocked a door at a certain house, and an "it" came out. At first we thought it was just a girl, but then when it started talking, well lets just say it was the most girly voice I've ever heard. My companion was talking to it, and when I realized she was actually a he, I almost started laughing. We left that house pretty quick.

On Thursday, we had a really good day. We saw a lot of progress in the parents(members) of Miriam and Clarise (nonmembers). We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and the dad, Christian, asked us a lot of really good questions. They are progressing really well, and have a definite baptismal date for the 14th of April. We also have been working a lot with a really good member, that had dropped off for a while, and hasn't been going to church. We finally got him to commit to go to church this week again. His wife has been inactive for a longer time, and she also was planning on going. We told him that Satan was going to be working against them, and that he needed to read the BOM with his wife so that they could all go to church just fine. Unfortunately he didn't follow through with his part of reading like we invited him to, and his wife ended up deciding that she wasn't going to go. It's amazing how as missionaries, we can really see the things that people need to do, and sometimes I just want to force them to do them so that they can be happy, but I realize now how God feels with us sometimes, when he tells us to do things, and we don't do them. We also committed two other guys, Oscar and David to go to church.

On Friday, I did divisions again, with Hernandarias 1.1. I went with an elder, named Elder Edwards. He is a convert to the church, he's from New Mexico. He was baptized when he was 18, and the day he got baptized, he arrived home to a note on the door that said "congratulations, you now have a new family." And all of his stuff was outside of the door. His parents kicked him out of the house after he was baptized in the church. The rest of his family still aren't members of the church. During the divisions, we were focusing on finding new investigators, because they have been finding like 8 a week. In the day of divisions we found 8 new investigators. We found a family that had a 24 year old son that passed away 5 months ago. Also during the day, we sat down to teach some people, and an old man told us, yeah, we are pecadores(sinners). We explained to him that we are all sinners, but that we can repent, and be baptized to wash away our sins. He then said, yeah, but we just go down to the river every once in a while and sell our pecados(sins). Then I asked him if he goes to a church, and they said, yeah here in our house. Then we kept talking about repentance, and he said, no but we just go down to the river, and sell our pecados(sins). Then I said, alright, I don't understand, you sell your pecados(sins) by the river? He replied, yeah, whenever we have time to. I asked, but there are people who actually want to buy your pecados(sins)? He said, yeah, we just go to the people, and sell them to whoever wants to eat them. Lightbulb. Oh you are talking about Pescados(fish)? Yeah, the guy just doesn't speak a whole lot of Spanish it turns out. He was talking about sins the whole time, but really meant to say fish. Well done.

On Sunday, we really saw the miracles. I have been doing a lot of fasts lately, because I really want to see the miracles that we need here in our area. On Saturday, I started another fast, I was fasting that I would be able to have people in the church this week so that they could progress. Sunday morning we went to look for an investigator, Nestor. He is about 18 years old, and lives by himself, and is working. He came with us and we went in and sat down and everything. The priesthood meeting started and then they went to separate the young men and the adults. When they did that, Nestor stood up and just took off. We were kind of confused, so we sat there for a second not knowing what to do. Then we got up, and went out to talk to him. He told us that he was confused, and that he thought we were going to take him to the catholic church. We had already taught him all of the restoration, left him a Book Of Mormon, and set a baptismal date with him..... not sure how he mixed that one up. We tried to talk to him, but he ended up leaving, and went over to the Catholic Church. My companion got super disappointed after that, because he was really thinking that Nestor was a golden investigator. Then a member came and asked us, hey do you guys have anyone you want to go look for. We took up the offer, and went with him to look for Oscar (22) and David (20). We got to their house, and they were sleeping. When we got there, they got dressed, and ended up going with us. In the Sacrament meeting we ended up having 5 investigators, Oscar and David, Miriam and Clarise, and another investigator that is named Patricio. Last week we had just under 35 people in church, this week we had 55 (a goal that we had set as a companionship). We reactivated a ton of less-actives in the week as well. The whole family of Miriam and Clarise came (7 people) for the first time. Hermano Aregui came with his two daughters. 3 other daughters of a family we are working with came. We also had a 3 other people who we talked to so that they would come. It was really quite a miracle that we saw. We were able to increase the attendance to church by 21 people in a week. I know that the lord answered my fasting and prayer, and that really we didn't do hardly anything to be able to see that. I know that God is a God of miracles, and I know that he works according to our faith. He really is working wonders here in our area. It has had a complete change, and I know that it is due to the power and grace of God. This is the true church, and we have the same power to work the same miracles as were done in the past. All that we need is to have the faith like the apostles of old. Most of the ward was really surprised with some of the people that had come, and it really helped them be more excited. The spirit of the members is changing a lot. Everybody is more happy, and excited. It is so exciting to see what's happening here. We are now working with the branch president, so that they do their part to help all those people stay active.

I love you guys tons, and thank you all for the support and encouragement that I receive from you. I know that your prayers on my behalf have made a big difference in my mission. Love ya tons, jajatopata (see ya later in Guarani) until next week.

Elder Ryan Griffin

19 March, 2012

Cleaning inspections

Well, this week has been good. We have been working super hard. I didn't really think that there was anything more I could do to work harder, but I really learned this week that there is always more effort that we can give on our part, so that the lord can bless us more on his part.
This week we found a total of 29 new investigators, and had 32 baptismal invitations. We also were able to get 42 lessons in the week(the past couple weeks we have been getting 10 news, 10 invitations, and 28 lessons or so). We really saw a lot of miracles in the week, as well as our fair share of trials and hardships.

To start the week off, I got a call from President Callan on Monday, he just let me know that the cleaning inspections in our district were going to be on Tuesday, and that my companion and I were going to go with them to check all the apartments. We only had two hours left on p-day, so we just did all the cleaning that we could manage, before going out to work. Then the rest of Monday we had a pretty good day.
On Tuesday, we had the cleaning inspections with President and Hermana Callan, and we drove around with them to inspect the other apartments of the other elders in my district. After that we got home, ate lunch, and went out to work. We just had an explosion of a day on Tuesday. We found ten new investigators during the day, all of which were good new investigators. We also taught quite a bit of lessons along with that.

On Wednesday, we had our district meeting and we did divisions after with another companionship. Elder Brown (came with me) went to my area with my companion, and I went with Elder Ayola (1 change more than me.) President basically put them together because they are both disobedient, and don't really do what they should be doing. I did divisions with Elder Ayola, and I talked to him a lot about the mission, and the importance of being obedient, and finishing his mission strong. Then the next morning, we sat down to do the evaluation. Right then President Callan called their phone. I answered, and he told me that Elder Ayola's companion told president that he is watching movies on the dvd player. He told me that I needed to take it away, and also ask him to give me the dvd's. I just kept going with the evaluation after, and talked to him about the importance of obedience. I shared a scripture in D&C 88 that says if we can't obey a celestial law, we can't support a celestial glory. I explained that in the mission we have a celestial law, and we have to learn how to obey with exactness to progress toward a celestial glory. Then I shared Alma 34:34 and told him the same spirit with which he wants to obey in the mission, is the same spirit that will possess him after the mission. Then at the end I had to tell him what president said, so I took the DVD's that he had, and the DVD player from their pension.
On Thursday, after all of that, we had a good day. We were able to find some good new investigators again, and put baptismal dates with a bunch of people. On Friday, we had another really good day, we found another 6 new investigators, and really saw some miracles during the day. We found these two guys that we taught. They are David (20) and Oscar(22). Oscar was telling us a story about how he didn't understand why God created the earth in 6 days, and then had to rest. He said he prayed about it, and that he heard a voice in his head. He said it told him: "My time is not like the time of man, to me one day is like 1000 years, to put it in a way that you can understand." There was a little more to the story, but we were pretty surprised when he said that about 100 years being like a day to man, seeing as it says that in the scriptures, and he said that he doesn't really read the scriptures. We taught them all of the Restoration, and left them with a Book Of Mormon.
Speaking of Books of Mormon. When I got to this area, we had 4 boxes of them. Then when Elder Richards came he brought another. We have been giving them out a lot, and right now we actually are about to run out. We had over 120, and now we have about 5 left. Well, I think we are doing good with flooding the world (or at least Hernandarias 2) with Books of Mormon.

There is a new doctrine that apparently the Catholic church just started. They say that Everybody is a church, and that the families are a church. Every single catholic brings that up now when we start talking about the true church. They always say, well I don't think there is a true church, the church is every one of us. What we do and say is the church. I was really thinking about the doctrine of that, which is completely false. It really is clear that it is from Satan, because now he wants people to think that they are all churches, and that there is no need for the true church. We just have to have faith in Jesus, and that is the church inside of everyone of us. It's been really frustrating trying to have to explain to them, that they are not in fact a church, seeing as the definition of church is an organization of people. The devil and his tactics are pushing hard..... We got to the point at the end of this week where a guy told us that he was a church, and I was so sick of hearing it, that I just asked him, Hermano, do you really believe that you are a church? He thought about it for a second, and then said.... No. They just believe anything the pope says, even when they themselves don't really believe it.....

On Saturday, we had a good trial. We had an influx of new investigators and had way too many to be able to visit all of them to commit them to go to church. We talked to two members, and set up to do divisions with them, to be able to cover all of our appointments. We had a good 20 or thirty appointments for the last couple hours of the day. A little bit before we were going to do the divisions, everything was falling through, and so we started using a couple of our extra appointments to use time. They also fell through. We then called off the divisions, seeing as we no longer needed to cover so many, but we still had a lot of appointments left. In less than and hour, we had about 10 more appointments fall through. It was really strange, because it was Saturday, and everybody else was home, but the only houses that looked empty, were those of our investigators. At near the end of the day, we went and did a contact of a family that was sitting outside(seeing as they were the only people we could find that weren't drinking) I started contacting them, and they were coming up with all sorts of excuses to not share with us. Finally I convinced them to just listen for a couple minutes, and we sat down on the step (they didn't have chairs) and taught them. It turned out to be a really good spiritual lesson, even though there was a church in front that was playing a guitar and singing, and people that were coming to their house to buy stuff (they have a little in-home store.) Anyway, they accepted a BOM and the invitation to read and pray. They were really excited to do so.

On Sunday, we only had one investigator show up, due to the fact that we couldn't visit any of them the day before. We had a couple of good lessons during the day as well, and ended the week off well. We have 13 people with baptismal dates right now, 12 of the which are for the 7th of April. My companion and I are both hoping that we can stay together another change to actually be able to see the baptisms together. The change is on the 4th of April, so we'll see what happens. We have a lot of potential right now in our area, and we are seeing lots of miracles. Things are changing a lot in the area, now we just need to start seeing the baptisms.

I love you guys tons, and hope all is well with you. How was the marriage? I didn't hear anything from you guys..... I suppose maybe you had daylight savings time? Well, anyway, hope to hear how the marriage went next week... Love ya,

Elder Ryan Griffin

12 March, 2012

Traveling with assistants

Well, this has been a good week for us overall. We went to the temple on Tuesday, and it was really good. It just took all the energy out of us for the 12 hours of travel. Other than that it was really good though.

This whole week, the traveling assistants were doing divisions with my district. On Thursday and Friday they came and did them with us. Before going out, they talked about the difficulties in our area, we explained to them what was being difficult right now, and then went out and worked. We split the area in two parts, and worked with all 4 of us for two days. With most other companionships that they have done it with, they have found like 50-75 investigators in 2 days all together. I think they were expecting to have the same luck here in our area. I went first with Elder Love, and the first like 15 people we talked to rejected us. We talked to a guy that asked us how old we were, and then told us that he knows more than us, and that he should be the one to teach us. Then we went and sat down to teach another guy, Elder Love started saying the prayer, and then the guy joined in, and just took it over. Elder Love didn't know what to do, and just stopped and said amen. I started laughing, and then we couldn't stop laughing. Finally we started teaching, and the guy just wouldn't let us speak. We just left the lesson. Then we went to another guy that Elder Love tried to force his way in, and the guy just wouldn't let us in. Then we found another guy that had killed a man, and so he didn't want to learn about Christ. Then another guy that got angry at us, and threw us out of his house. Basically I think the assistants were a little surprised to find out that it really wasn't so easy here. During the two days we did find 20 investigators, so not too bad, but definitely not like what they found in other areas. The next day, I went with Elder Paladines, the one that I was in the same house as a year ago. He has changed some, but he is still the same with a lot of things. During the divisions, they put baptismal dates with everyone, and put them for like 4 weeks out. Needless to say, we did learn some good stuff from the divisions.

After that we worked normal for the next two days, and found some good people. On Sunday, we ended up having two people that went to church, one of which is going to be baptized on the 24th. We are working really hard to lift up this branch, and do everything we can to have more baptisms here. It's honestly pretty difficult here, but we have the faith that it can be done. We are already starting to see a lot of miracles in the area, and now we just need to keep working to get more baptisms.

Well, Sorry, there wasn't a whole lot to say from this week, so I'll try and write stuff down better next week to inform you better. Love you guys tons.

Elder Ryan Griffin

06 March, 2012

Temple trip

Hey, sorry we're late on writing this week. We figured out we were going to the temple, so we didn't have P-day, and so now we only have a couple of minutes to write. Just wanted to let you know everything is alright.

We went to the temple today, we traveled all night long to get here to Asunción, so it was really hard to stay awake and alert in the session, but it was still really good. Things are looking up in the area, we are having some good prospects that could be getting baptized in a little bit. The Assistants are going to be doing divisions with us this Thursday and Friday, so that will be interesting, I haven't had to do divisions with the assistants in my mission yet, so it will be a first.
Things were pretty hectic for the temple trip, and since I had to make sure the rest of my district didn't get lost, we ended up getting everything done late, and so we only have like a couple of minutes to write you before our bus leaves for Cuidad del Este.

My companion and I are still getting along really well, we are working hard in our area, but we're still fighting to try and get some baptisms. There is so much to do, and so little time to do it. I got a letter from Devin two weeks ago, and still haven't been able to write him back for lack of time.

The heat has been climbing back up these past couple of days, and we are sweating everything off. We're just waiting it out until the cold finally comes in.
Love you guys tons, and I'll try to write a longer letter next week. Have a fantastic week!
Elder Ryan Griffin

27 February, 2012

Shopping experiences

Well this week has been a good week, we've had some super spiritual lessons with our investigators, and I feel super happy with everything that is going on... even though as of right now we're still not seeing baptisms. We had changes this Wednesday. My companion and I stayed here for another change. The other 3 companionships all had changes. Elder Brown who came with me is now with Elder Ayola..... they are both just trunky, so there's a lot of work to do there. The other two companionships had younger missionaries that came with them, so now we have a younger district. One of my zone Leaders, Elder Clement went as one of the assistants. There are 4 now in the mission due to the fact that there will be a new president. The other new assistant, is Elder Paledines, the elder that was in te same apartment as me a year ago, and always stole my food and stuff, and was super disobedient with Elder Vaca. Who knows, maybe he changed?
On Monday, we went to downtown Cuidad del Este. It is actually the most city I have ever seen here in Paraguay. My companion needed to look for some stuff, and so we went there to look. At the same time we did a lot of souvenir shopping because they have everything out there. It was super hectic downtown. We had people walking all over, so it was a lot of dodging, and avoiding trying to get around. Basically on all the sidewalks there, there are stores on one side, and the street isn't even visible because on the other side, there are stands with various different things to sell. It kind of causes a maze effect, and is super confusing, because it kind of just forces you to go a certain way, and you can't see the streets, so it's really easy to get lost. We don't know downtown at all, so we were just wandering aimlessly to try and find some cool stuff to buy. I got some pretty cool stuff, and got some good practice on my bartering skills. I bought a jug with leather work on the outside, with a cup, that the guy said was 120 guarani. I told him I'd buy it if he included one of the metal straws (used for drinking terere, which is about 7 guarani) He agreed, and then I told him I only had 100 guarani, so he just sold it to me for that anyway. Then I bought a leather work cup thing, and a wallet that was supposed to be 50 guarani. I got her to put my name inscripted on it, and got the both for 40 mil. Later I got some napkin holder, and cup placers that are leather, it was 45 mil, but I got it for 35. Then I got some of the Paraguay jerseys, set at 150 mil, bought for 100. I saved overall 100 gaurani (25 dollars or so) It was pretty fun going around and seeing all the different little things that they have here. I did some pretty good shopping. Hopefully I don't get a change now, because I won't have space.
We were looking for a suit for my companion, and we entered into a store. It had an escalator, and every floor had different things. The first floor was a bunch of jewelry and stuff. Then we got on the escalator, and the next floor had electronics, it kind of turned into a nice little surprise as we are going up, to find what the next surprise was on the next floor. The third floor had a restaurant with sushi, and a guy playing the piano..... strange... Then the last floor, they had some clothes. We found some suits, and they seemed pretty nice. We go over and ask the lady how much it costs..... 1,800 .... dollars. Wow. Yeah, as you can imagine we got out of there pretty quick. On the way back, we saw a pen that costed 200 dollars, and a watch that cost 1000 dollars. Yeah, we're not going back there.

We had changes on Wednesday, my companion and I both stayed.
Basically the whole week it rained off and on, so it made things a little tougher, but we kept trudging along, with mud, and rain. We are really starting to teach with the spirit a lot better now. We are having super spiritual lessons with almost all of our lessons, and we are seeing a lot of people who have been prepared of God. On Tuesday, we taught a family that we just sat down with. We had the spirit there strong, and I have realized that the spirit makes it so that people aren't just luke warm, they either accept of reject. As we taught this family, the spirit was there strong, and we invited them to be baptized. Immediately, the father stood up, and walked away, saying no.
The very next lesson, we sat down with another guy, and once again, had the spirit there strong, and we could see that he could feel it. Regardless, he rejected it as well. We told him that if he wanted to know the truth he had to ask God. He stood up at that point and yelled something at us, and went storming into his house. My companion and I looked at each other, stood up, and left. It's sad to see that people are willing to reject what they are feeling so much, simply because they want to follow their traditions. It makes me feel a lot of anguish for them, because I know what they're missing out on.
On Friday, we taught some really good lessons as well. We went and taught two new investigators in the morning. We had a good lesson with them, and they seemed really sincere. Later, we taught a guy named Ramon. We got into his house right as it was about to rain, and we sat down, and taught him the restoration. It was a really spiritual lesson, and he even admitted that his church is false, and isn't the same church as what Christ formed. He accepted a baptismal invitation at the end. Later, we sat down with a reference that we had from a member. We started teaching them, and it was a super spiritual lesson. I could tell that they were feeling the spirit, and so I asked them, what are you thinking right now. The responded: " I don't know." Then I asked How do you feel right now? There was a long pause as they sat thinking, the spirit was burning strong, and then the wife spoke up and said: "I don't want to change churches." I replied, that's not what we asked you, I asked how are you feeling right now. Another pause, and they responded, no we don't want to change churches. I felt my heart just drop, and we left them with a prayer. It is really sad to see that so many people feel that spirit so strongly, and then are willing to just throw it out the window.

Later in Friday, we had one of the best lessons I have ever had. We went to Juan Ramon, who we had previously taught at a member´s house. When we went for the return visit earlier in the week, he told the members that he is catholic and doesn't want to change. We went to his house regardless, and he let us in. We sat down, and started talking to him. Right from the start of the lesson, the spirit was already there, and it just got stronger as the lesson went on. We testified to him about how he could come to know for himself, and he asked us some really good questions. We could tell that the spirit was directing him, as well as us. It was really just a lesson of the spirit. At the end of the lesson, the words came out of my mouth. Juan, Satan will attack you with even people that are close to you to try and get you to doubt our message, but trust what it is that you are feeling right now, and God will help you. After I said that he replied, well you are right there, I have already seen that happen.
We had a couple of other really spiritual lessons in the week, and really I just feel even happier now. We are feeling so edified by the spirit, and seeing his spirit work trough us. We are both really excited, and working hard. My companion and I get along really well, and we are really seeing miracles. As of right now, we still don't have anybody lined up for baptism, but regardless of if we have baptisms or not, I feel happy that I am becoming a better servant of my Father. I feel so grateful for the testimony and knowledge of the gospel that I have gained in my mission. I will never be able to work hard enough to pay Him back, but as long as I feel like he's pleased with me, I know I am doing all I can.

I love you guys, and hope all is well back home. I want to ask you guys a favor, please don't talk about home to me. I want to stay focused on the mission, so I would really appreciate it if you guys can help me with that. Thanks a ton, and I love you all. Cuidense!
Elder Ryan Griffin

20 February, 2012

Release date

Well this has been a very interesting week.
On Monday and Tuesday we had a pretty rough start to the week, with just 5 lessons, adn no news or anything else. Then on Wednesday, we had our zone Conference. We had to wake up a little early to go to Cuidad del Este to go to the conference. It turned out to be a really good conference. I learned a lot about teaching with the spirit, and about the different things that we can do a little bit better in our area. I had to give a little 5 minute talk to start out the conference, it was about goals and plans, and why it is central to our purpose as misionaries. President talked a lot about various teaching principals that we need to do better as missionaries. Our mission is super young right now, so I think it was really good for some of the younger missionaries to learn how to teach better. I recieved a lot of revelation as well during the conference, about simple little things that I can do to improve my teaching techniques. We also had a special number with about 8 missionaries, and we sang Joseph Smith's first prayer. We did really well for the fact that we only had about 20 minutes to practice it, and it turned out really well. The conference ended and we went back to our area. We only ended up getting another 2 lessons during the day, not starting off the week so well.
Then on Thursday we had an even harder day, only getting lessons with less-actives. After 4 days in the week, we had like 14 lessons, 7 of which were with less-actives. It was looking like it was going to be a pretty bad week.

On Friday, we had a hard day as well, but we pulled out of our rut a little bit, finding some new investigators, and getting more lessons. Then on Saturday, we had a complete change of the way things were going. In hte morning, we taught a guy named Arnaldo, we had taught him a couple weeks ago, but we couldn't find him again, until Saturday. we asked him about his compromise, of reading and praying. He said that he had done it, and told us that he felt something in his chest. He said it was something he couldn't explain, and that it made him feel good. We read part of 3 Nephi 11 with him, and explained that was the same thing the Nephites felt when they heard the voice. We ended up setting a baptismal date with him, and he told us he couldn't go to church, because he had work on Sunday. Later we went to another guy we had been teaching, named Abel. it turned out that now his daughter-in-law is living with them, and she is a member of the church, so that will be a big blessing and help to be able to get him to church. Unfortunately he also told us he couldn't go on Sunday, becuase he had to go work the next day. Later in the day, we went to a member's house, and they had us sit down, and teach a friend of theirs that was over. His name is Juan Ramon. He sat down, and we started teaching him the restoration. It was a super powerful and spiritual lesson, and we felt like he was really sincere, and really attentive to what we were teaching. We invited him to be baptized at the end, and he accepted. He gave an amazing prayer at the end, asking help to be able to wash himself of his sins, and be baptized in the true church of Christ. He also told us that he wasn't going to be able to go to church Sunday, due to a compromise he had. Later in the day we taught another family that we had been teaching for a couple times. We talked about the BOM with them, and they expressed that they felt it was true, adn that they want to be baptized. We put a date with them, but they also had something they had to do on Sunday. All of the investigators committed to go to church next week, but this week none of them could go. We have a lot of potential to start having a lot of baptisms now, we just have to keep working hard. I really feel like I felt the true joy of missionary work with my companion on Saturday, seeing the power of God, and of our message in the lives of these people.

We have changes coming up again this week, on Wednesday. I am hoping I don't get a change, because Elder Richards and I get along really well, and we are working really well together. We are having really spiritual and powerful lessons with almost every lesson we are teaching. It is awesome to feel the spirit so strong in all of our lessons, because now I really feel like I am doing everything in my power to help the people make the correct decision. We are really starting to see the power of God working through us in our area and in our investigators.

The next mission president for our mission has already been called. He is going to be Presidente Pedro Agazzani from Cordoba, Argentina. He'll be coming on July 1, 2012.... right after I leave. President Callan and his wife leave just after we do, so we are their last full group.

13 February, 2012

Ice Cream Man

Well this week I finally got my Christmas package. Thank you guys for all the letters and everything, I loved it!

Well On Tuesday, I did divisions with Elder King again. It went pretty well, we found some good people, and had some good lessons. We talked a lot about a bunch of different things that are going on in our areas and other stuff. He is a really good elder. It was fun being his companion for a day again. The next morning I had an awakening to Elder King falling out of the bed. He forgot he was in our pension, and somehow managed to fall out of his bed. Our room is really dark, so I just heard a thump and then, "ouch...." Then I started laughing, and he got confused, because he realized he wasn't in his pension, and asked "where am I?" It was a pretty funny morning for that.
Later on Wednesday, I took some of the fireballs that I got in the package, and I gave them to an Argentine member that lives here. At first he tried chewing it, and we told him you just have to suck on it. Then after a couple seconds he said, "wow, this is pretty spicy." Then a couple seconds later, he jumped up, and ran to his sink and spit it out, and then started chugging a bunch of water. I guess their not quite as used to spicy things as we are. We gave one to the branch president as well, and told him he wouldn't be able to finish it, so being a tough guy, he actually kept it in his mouth the whole time, but it was quite funny watching his eyes watering. We have given some to some kids and other people as well. I think the reactions of the Paraguayans with fireballs is much more worth it than eating them ourselves.

I tried grilled chicken hearts this week. Another strange food to add to the list of weird things I've eaten here. It wasn't really good or bad, just kind of in the middle. Not really something I'll be seeking out after the mission.

We had a super funny contact this week. There was an old man that walks around with a little cart selling ice cream all day. This old little guy was sitting on a bench eating some ice cream, with his cart at his side. We went up and started talking to him a little bit. I asked him where he lived, and he said: "over there," pointing in a direction with his finger. Then I said OK, perfect, and what is there close to you house, something we can use to find it? He replied: "oh, you know.... all of the things." I couldn't help but smirk a little at that one. Then I asked OK, but hermano, how can we get to you house? He responded: oh, well through God of course." at that point I just gave up the contact and we left him sitting there with his little ice cream. You win old man, you win.
We also had a funny encounter or two with some drunk guys. The first one, called us over and we started talking to him. To try and explain something, he asked well you have a mom right? I said, well yeah. Then he asked my companion, and he replied, nope, my mom died when I was 12 (she really did). Then the drunk guy got super sad, and said how can a boy live without him mom. You're only 19 years old, and you don't have a mom? Then he pulled out a box of cigarettes, and said, "well now I'm really nervous, I need to smoke." I don't think he was expecting my companions response before he asked that question, but it was pretty funny to see his reaction. Later in the week, we went up and talked to a guy, who turned out to be drunk. My companion was talking to him, and asked him which is more important, the Virgin Mary, or Jesus Christ. The guy responded, well the virgin Mary of course. Then asked us why we don't believe in her. We ended up just leaving and knocking a different door. Later we walked past him again, and he yelled, hey, do you guys believe in the virgin. My companion just said, nope! The guy then started yelling at us, How can you not believe in our god. If you do that, I'm not going to believe in your god. We kept walking, and he shouted, hey come back here. I'm gonna hit you guys! How can you not believe in the Virgin? He was shouting things until we got about 3 blocks away, and then we couldn't hear him anymore.
I've been working a lot this week on smiling more, and just trying to be happy regardless of the circumstances. I did pretty well right up until Saturday and Sunday. We ended up walking a ton, and we were both exhausted, so it was hard to keep a smile on the face at that point. We both woke up exhausted this morning from how much we walked yesterday.

We had an overall good week, we found lots of new investigators, and had some good lessons. We are still struggling on having investigators progressing. We are working super hard, like for the past couple months, but I think God still has some things that he wants us to learn. Well, all we have left to do, is just keep improving, and do everything we can do, and then sit back, and see the promises of God fulfil themselves. I really feel like these past couple months of my mission have been some of the hardest. Sometimes I really don't think I can take anymore. However, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am so grateful for every little experience that the Lord allows me to pass through to become a better person. I love looking back at the person I was, and seeing now the difference in the person I have become. Most of who I now am, is thanks to the trials and tribulations that I have had to go through. I guess you could say the best weeks of the mission are the most frustrating, and difficult weeks of all, but that's because the Lord loves us. My testimony of this work, and of my Savior and the atonement are all thanks to the hard times I have had in the mission.

I love you guys, and hope all is well back home. Have a fantastic week!
Elder Ryan Griffin